The University of Iowa

Experts to discuss genetics and new technologies on February 15 WorldCanvass

January 22nd, 2013


The study of genetics has come a long way since Gregor Mendel’s groundbreaking work with pea plants in the mid-19th century. To see just how far we’ve come and where research into genetics is taking us, join WorldCanvass host Joan Kjaer and her panel of expert guests on Friday, February 15, at 5 p.m. in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber, when the topic is "Genetics and New Technologies."   The program is free and open to the public. 

Today, entire genomes have been sequenced, including the human genome, and the resulting knowledge has led to an explosion of scientific and medical specialties, advances in the research and treatment of innumerable diseases, and genetic testing that can help parents and patients negotiate problematic diagnoses or put their minds at ease.  New technologies have enabled more and more specialized research, which pushes technological developments forward as multi-disciplinary collaborations produce new inquiries and spur new thinking.  At the same time that this brave new scientific world holds so much promise for so many, individuals and societies are finding themselves wrestling with previously unheard of ethical and legal dilemmas. 

Our exceptional panel of guests will help us understand the research world we live in today, examining what’s been made possible by new technologies and discussing, for example, how genetic analysis of cancer is helping develop targeted treatments, treatments which can be delivered to patients based on the genetics of their particular cancer.  We’ll learn about genetic screenings for newborns, the critical research roles played by the basic sciences and professional fields like engineering, and what it takes to move clinical research into patient care.  We’ll also confront emerging ethical and legal issues related to both genetics and new technologies and the choices many will be forced to make for themselves or their loved ones in coming years.

Guests are:

Tom Casavant—director, UI Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

John Logsdon—associate professor, UI Department of Biology

Benjamin Darbro—director, UI Human Cytogenetics Lab, Department of Pediatrics

Daniel Reed—UI vice president for research and economic development
Read an article from Daniel Reed about the topics presented in this show

Val Sheffield—director, UI Division of Medical Genetics

George Weiner—director, UI Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

Barry Butler—UI provost

Andrew Kitchen—associate professor, UI Department of Anthropology

Diana Cates—professor and chair, UI Department of Religious Studies

Sandra Daack-Hirsch—assistant professor, UI College of Nursing

Josephine Gittler—professor, UI College of Law

WorldCanvass is a production of International Programs at the University of Iowa.  Program partners are UITV, the UI Pentacrest Museums, KRUI-FM, and Information Technology Services. For more information, contact Joan Kjaer at or consult the website: