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Release: Aug. 20, 1999

UI College of Medicine features Mini Medical School genetics program

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Gene therapy, cloning, in vitro fertilization and ethics will be among topics discussed at this year’s Mini Medical School, "Dolly’s Genes: The Future of Genetics Research and Medicine," sponsored by the University of Iowa College of Medicine.

Registration is now open for the public to attend this free, three-part program on Sept. 14, 21, and 28 from 7-9 p.m. in Medical Alumni Auditorium. College of Medicine faculty members will explore many facets of genetics, reproductive sciences and ethical issues that surface as the "human blueprint" is drawn.

On Sept. 14, Paul McCray, M.D. and Beverly Davidson, Ph.D. will give the first of three presentations, "Trading Genes." They will explain how some diseases are being treated using gene therapy and gene transfer techniques. Davidson is associate professor, internal medicine and director of the Gene Transfer Vector Core Facility and researches gene transfer in the study and treatment of Batten’s Disease. McCray is associate professor of pediatrics and researches potential uses of gene therapy to treat cystic fibrosis.

The Sept. 21 program, "Designer Genes," will explore in vitro fertilization, stem cell research and the history of cloning technology with Roger Williamson, M.D. and Amy Sparks, Ph.D. Williamson is professor and head of the obstetrics division, department of obstetrics and gynecology. Sparks is a research scientist in the departments of urology and obstetrics and gynecology and director of the In Vitro Fertilization and Reproductive Testing Laboratories, University of Iowa Health Care.

On Sept. 28, "Genetic Fingerprinting" will feature Val Sheffield, M.D., Ph.D., who will discuss the impact of human genome research and disease gene identification and Robert Weir, M.D., who will lead discussion on ethical issues of genetic research. Sheffield is professor of pediatrics and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and director of the UI Interdepartmental Research Program in Human Molecular Genetics. Weir is professor of pediatrics and director of the Program in Biomedical Ethics and Medical Humanities.

Dr. Allyn Mark, associate dean for research and graduate programs in the college and director of the Mini-Medical School project, says the program should appeal to persons who have been curious about medical science and health.

"Mini-Medical School programs offer the public a brief, but intense look into the science behind medical research and discoveries. Participation in these programs makes for better-informed citizens and patients," said Mark.

More than two dozen institutions nationwide offer mini-medical school programs. The University of Iowa College of Medicine has sponsored mini-medical school since 1996.

Pre-registration for all three sessions is required. Call 384-9988 or 1-800-691-2323 or register by Internet at All sessions are free and open to the public.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the University of Iowa College of Medicine in advance at 335-8030.