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Center for Human Genetics to Celebrate Grand Opening of New Building

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

DURHAM, NC -- On Monday, April 21, 2003, the Center for Human Genetics will celebrate the grand opening of the new building housing the center. The celebration, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 2 p.m. in the Bryan Research Building Auditorium, Room 103.

The Center for Human Genetics, one of five major Centers in Duke's Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy (IGSP), uses family histories, sophisticated molecular analyses and statistical genetics to reveal the genetic origin of diseases including Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders. The center also plans to apply the rapidly advancing science and technology of genomics to a wide array of other major disorders, including heart disease, diabetes, glaucoma, osteoarthritis, mental illness and cancers.

The 120,000-square-foot, $41-million "Genome Sciences Research Building I" off Research Drive is the first major structure to house the IGSP.

"We are extremely pleased and proud to dedicate this extraordinary research facility, particularly on the 50th anniversary of the Nobel Prizewinning elucidation of the DNA double helix by James Watson and Francis Crick," said center director Margaret Pericak-Vance, Ph.D.. "This building, and the research that goes on within it, aims to apply that breathtaking basic discovery to understanding, diagnosing and treating some of the most tragic and widespread diseases of humanity."

Said Huntington F. Willard, Ph.D., director of the IGSP and vice chancellor for genome sciences, "The Center for Human Genetics exemplifies the excellence in genome sciences and policy that Duke is achieving. And this new building will provide critically needed state-of-the-art research facilities for IGSP scientists to continue its work to unravel complex genetic diseases and to help develop and apply improved methods of diagnosis and treatment in the new age of genomic medicine."

The celebration will begin with a welcoming address by Willard, who will speak on "From DNA to the Genome to Genome Sciences and Policy."

"Human Genetics: A Historical Perspective," will be the subject of a talk by P. Michael Conneally, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and director of the hereditary diseases and studies division in the department of molecular genetics at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

The keynote address on "Genetic and Genomic Approaches to Complex Human Disease" will be delivered by Pericak-Vance, who is a James B. Duke Professor of Medicine. Pericak-Vance will discuss the state of current knowledge about human genetics, research milestones in human genetics at Duke and the center and the center's applied research on Alzheimer's disease. Finally, she will discuss the progress toward "genomic medicine," and the other possible applications of knowledge generated by the center.

Following the program, a public reception will be held in the lobby of the Bryan Research Building.

The Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy represents Duke University's comprehensive response to the broad challenges of the Genomic Revolution. The institute involves not only scientists, engineers and physicians who can advance the fundamental base of knowledge of genome science and technology; but also Duke scholars in law, business, economics, public policy, ethics, religion and the environment.

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