• -

Ancient Bloodsuckers, Disposable Genes, and What it All Means

University of Kentucky Department of Biology professor Jeramiah Smith, Ph.D., is presenting “Ancient Bloodsuckers, Disposable Genes, and What It All Means” as part of the 2018 NIGMS Director’s Early Career Investigator Lecture series.

Since 2016, the NIGMS director has hosted an annual lecture with the intent to encourage undergraduate students to pursue careers in biomedical research. These lectures feature an investigator who recently started their careers and is working on the cutting edge of science in their respective fields. The lectures include a 30-minute talk about the researcher’s work, followed by a 30-minute question-and-answer session. Each lecture is presented to an audience of undergraduate students both live and through a live videocast, which is also recorded for viewing after the event.

Smith’s research focuses on organisms with genetic exceptions that allow them to possess unusual and often enviable traits. Sea Lampreys, one of Smith’s favorites, are providing insight into cancer biology, tissue regeneration and evolutionary biology. Among the exceptional traits lampreys possess are the ability to repair a completely severed spinal cord within 12 weeks and embryonic genome rearrangement. This programmed genome rearrangement (PGR) appears to be responsible for eliminating many risks of cancer and other dangerous diseases by completely removing the unnecessary genes that cause them from the non-reproductive cells. Thanks to the lamprey’s position on the evolutionary tree and their comprehensive reproductive genome, Smith’s team aims to understand more about the vertebrate evolution process, tissue regeneration and cancer biology.

The Early Career Investigator Lecture will take place on April 17, 2018, at 2:00 pm EST at the National Institute of Health’s Natcher Conference Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The videocast of the talk will be available on the NIH’s VideoCasting website. Additional information about Smith’s research can be found on the lecture’s webpage, and in the UK Research video, Regeneration Bonus: Jeramiah Smith.