April 09, 2007

Renowned cancer researcher to speak at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

kittles in lab

Rick A. Kittles

CARBONDALE — Renowned geneticist and cancer researcher Rick A. Kittles will present a lecture later this week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Kittles will speak on "Human DNA Sequence Variation and the Inherited Basis of Complex Diseases," at 4 p.m., Thursday, April 12, in the SIUC Student Center Ballroom B. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Kittles is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago's School of Medicine. According to Kittles' homepage, his current work explores sequence variation within candidate genes in well-characterized populations for prostate and breast cancer, cardiovascular disease and human pigmentation. His interests also include biological and socio-cultural issues related to race, and the health disparities and the utility of admixture mapping for genes for common traits and disease in African Americans and Hispanic Americans.

The University's Black Graduate Student Association is sponsoring Kittles' visit.

Nastassia N. Jones, Black Graduate Student Association president, invited Kittles' to speak after hearing him at a conference last fall. Research that Kittles is conducting is also being done here at SIUC, she said.

Kittles relates well to audiences, said Jones, a second-year graduate student in molecular biology, microbiology and biochemistry.

"They don't have to be cancer researchers or in the sciences, but everyone can relate to his presentation," she said.

Kittles earned his bachelor's degree in biology from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1989; a master's degree in biology from State University of New York-Brockport in 1991; and a doctorate, also in biology, from George Washington University in 1998.

As part of community outreach, Kittles will meet with area junior high and high school students — primarily minority and female students — on Friday, April 13, to encourage them to consider entering the sciences.

Co-sponsors of Kittles' visit are: the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, the SIUC Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Undergraduate Student Government, Graduate Professional Student Council, SIU School of Medicine's SimmonsCooper Cancer Institute, Racial/Ethnic Minority Student Program, SigmaXi—The Scientific Research Society, and the SIUC departments of physiology, molecular biology, microbiology, and biochemistry.