2013 Neel Lecture

Pioneering Geneticist Huntington Willard to present the annual James V. Neel Lecture in Human Genetics

Ann Arbor, MI - Huntington F. Willard, Ph.D., the founding Director of the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy and the Nanaline H. Duke Professor of Genome Sciences at Duke University, will give the thirteenth James V. Neel Lecture in Human Genetics at the University of Michigan on Friday, May 17, at 3 p.m. Dr. Willard’s lecture “Black Boxes Revisited: Chromosomal Mechanisms of Gene Expression, Control and Inheritance” will take place at the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building, in the D. Dan & Betty Kahn Auditorium, located at 109 Zina Pitcher Place, on the University of Michigan medical campus. A reception and poster session will follow the lecture. For more information, call 734-647-3149.

This annual lectureship honors James V. Neel, M.D., Ph.D., a pioneer in the study of human genetics and one of the first to foresee its importance in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In 1956, Neel established the first academic department of human genetics in the United States at the University of Michigan Medical School, which he chaired for 25 years. He received the Lasker Award, National Medal of Science and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The annual event includes the presentation of the James V. Neel Fellowship Awards, which recognize the outstanding academic and research achievements of human genetics graduate students pursuing Ph.D. degrees and M.S. in Genetic Counseling.

Dr. Willard is a respected leader in the fields of human genetics and genome biology, known both for his research accomplishments and for his passion for integrating research and education at all levels. A graduate of Harvard College, he received his Ph.D. from Yale University in human genetics and carried out postdoctoral training in medical genetics at Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Prior to coming to Duke University he held faculty positions at the University of Toronto, Stanford University, and Case Western Reserve University, where he was Chairman of the Department of Genetics.

Dr. Willard has made seminal contributions in the field of genetics and epigenetics. His scholarly interests include genome and chromosome biology; and the genome sciences and their broad implications for biology, medicine and society. He is best known for his studies of centromeres, the parts of chromosomes that link sister chromatids, and X-inactivation, the process that silences gene expression on the X chromosome. Dr. Willard is the author or co-author of over 300 scientific publications.
Dr. Willard was awarded the 2009 William Allan Award by the American Society of Human Genetics for scientific contributions to the field of human genetics, and he served as president of the society in 2001. He is an elected fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he received the 2011 Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal from the Yale Graduate School for achievements in scholarship, teaching and public service.

A passionate and innovative educator, he has received teaching awards from students at Case Western Reserve University and Duke University. He is co-author of Genetics in Medicine, a widely used textbook, now entering its eighth edition, and co-editor of Genomic and Personalized Medicine, a reference text in its second edition.

Dr. Willard has served in numerous leadership positions, both nationally and internationally, and has played an advisory role for research foundations, government agencies and various biotechnology and genomics companies. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals, including being a co-founder and Executive Editor of Human Molecular Genetics for 14 years. In addition, he is co-author of a forthcoming book on scientific and societal aspects of the Genome Revolution and is an author of numerous editorial and opinion pieces for the general public on the topics of biomedical research, education, genetics and the impact of the genome revolution on society, personal identity and health.

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