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CIFAR meetings are attended by top scientists, which is good both for scientific progress and for the Canadian students who attend the meetings.

Kathryn Moler
Associate, Quantum Materials

Genetic Networks

The Genetic Networks program is devoted to discovering how genes interact with one another, research that could identify the root causes of many complex genetic diseases, and lead to new treatments and preventive measures.

Members of this program are devoted to charting these genetic interactions with the purpose of establishing the complete gene interaction network map: the so-called “interactome.” This map leads to deeper understanding of cell function and regulation.

Not only do interactome dynamics govern normal cellular activity, they also cause cellular dysfunction. Gene interactions in the form of multiple gene abnormalities are the basis for many human diseases, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many cancers.

Thus, understanding how our genes work together as networks holds the potential for new treatments and preventive measures in disease, and adds a new level of complexity to scientists’ knowledge of how DNA works to integrate and regulate cell functionality.

Launched in 2005, the Genetic Networks program unites genetic researchers working on a wide variety of species, including humans. This broadly integrated investigation of genetic interactions is unique in the world. Program members have strengths in statistics, computational biology and theoretical physics, as well as the core biological sciences of genetics and biochemistry.

From yeast to human beings, genetic interactions have been preserved from one species to another throughout evolutionary history. Consequently, this program’s research in simple model systems such as yeast and worm, can be extrapolated to humans. This work can help clarify how natural mutations and intentional genetic manipulations can cause, cure, or prevent many complex human diseases.

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Brenda Andrews

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Dr. Brenda Andrews is Professor and Chair of the Banting & Best Department of Medical Research within the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. She is also Director of the Terrence Donnelly Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Research.

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Autism and genetics

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In a paper published in June 2010 in the prestigious journal Nature, Stephen Scherer and an international team of researchers revealed new findings that suggest that each person with autism has different genetic risk factors.

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