W A Y N E  S T A T E  U N I V E R S I T Y  S C H O O L  O F  M E D I C I N E

V O L U M E  3  I S S U E  1  J U N E  1 9 9 8

                                  Next Page


Center for
Molecular Medicine
& Genetics

Developmental Biology Program Brings Researchers Together

Linking discoveries from animal research quickly and directly to the understanding and curing of human disease is the goal of Wayne State University's new Developmental Biology

The program brings together
researchers from throughout the Wayne State University and
Detroit Medical Center campuses for the purpose of studying the underlying mechanisms of embryonic development, with a focus on gene discovery, analysis of gene function in mammalian systems and translation of these findings into clinical practice.

The intent is to foster interactive and interdisciplinary investigations among basic science and clinical researchers of the fruit fly, mouse, and human who have common and complementary
interests and skills.

"We're setting the stage so that people who work in the development of fruit flies, mouse models, and human disease can interact closely and collaboratively," says Jack Lilien, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.  "We will try to centralize researchers so they can share their ideas, techniques and skill sets.  We also plan to recruit additional faculty members."

The Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics is one of the partners in the newly formed consortium at Wayne State University, which also includes the Children's Hospital of Michigan,

5  Human Genome Project

6  WSU Genetics Program

7  Faculty & Student News

7  Diabetes Symposium

8  Bumpers for Babies

Continued on page 2

Message From the Director

Center Advances the Field of Molecular Medicine and Genetics

George Grunberger, M.D.,
Director, Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics

I am pleased to present to you Advances, the redesigned newsletter of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics.  With this updated publication, we also introduce the Center's new logo.

These important changes signify the substantial growth and development taking place within the Center over the past several months.  We have been focusing our efforts on bringing the resources we need--outstanding faculty, interdisciplinary collaborations, state-of-the-art facilities, new sources of funding--to fulfill our mission of excellence and discovery.

Making scientific Advances is really what the Center is all about.  Our goal is to be a premiere site where fundamental discoveries are made in molecular medicine and genetics so that we may profoundly impact the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of human disease.  And we're already making a difference.  Every day our basic scien-

Continued on page 2

First Page    Previous Page    Next Page    Last Page

Developmental Biology Program  (Continued from the cover)

2 ADVANCES June 1998

Previous Page               Next Page

Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics.

"The Human Genome Project is producing the rosetta stone of biological information that will allow the ultimate translation of the genetic story," he says.  "Still, it will require the next century of study to truly understand this message and how the thousands of genes function in concert to produce the normal story of life, or how they malfunction to cause diseases such as cancer and birth defects.  What is clear already is that the genes of a fruit fly, a mouse, and a human are incredibly similar and that knowledge about one of these systems enhances greatly our understanding about the other two.

"Wayne State University is already strong in many areas of developmental biology, and we want to enhance our position by building an across-the-campus program that focuses onto this common theme the attention of scientists at the laboratory bench and clinicians at the bedside," says Hughes.

To this end, Wayne State already has excellent fruit fly developmental geneticists as well as mouse and human geneticists.  Now it is in the process of recruiting several new faculty members, including four vertebrate developmental biologists with expertise in mammalian mouse systems.  Wayne State is also planning a new high quality transgenic facility, which will make mouse models of human disease.

The Developmental Biology Program plans to focus initially on three main areas: the development of the nervous system; cancer genetics; and the understanding of developmentally important pathways, which help explain how genes interact to give each
of us a unique set of features as humans and individuals.

For more information about the Developmental Biology Program, please visit the World Wide Web at URL: http://sun2.science.

Message from the Director    (Continued from the cover)

tists and clinician-investigators are uncovering the mysteries of the mammalian genome and evolving their findings into translational research and technology transfer.  Every day they are pushing the boundaries of knowledge.

As the number of people affiliated with the Center has grown, it has become increasingly important to find ways to communicate with each other and build a sense of cohesion.  We already have some methods in place--from regular meetings to informal gatherings.  In the months ahead, we will be looking at other ways as well and welcome your input into this process.

In the meantime, this publication continues to be an important tool for providing valuable news and information about the Center's people, research, programs and activities.  In addition to a new look for the newsletter, we have added some new columns that we hope you will find useful.  On page 7, for example, you will find a new section for faculty, student and alumni news.  We hope you will let us know of any important accomplishments and recognitions for future issues.

This issue of Advances features a wide range of activities and efforts at the Center.  On page 3, you'll meet Mark Hughes, M.D., Ph.D., and learn how his revolutionary research in single cell biology and early human development

is helping families around the world.  On page 1, you'll read about the Center's involvement in the creation of a comprehensive developmental biology program at Wayne State University, Karmanos Cancer Institute, and Detroit Medical Center.  On page 5, you'll get an interesting overview of the Human Genome Project.  On page 4, you'll discover how the Center's new Biotechnology/Technology Transfer Program can help increase your grant approval success rate.

I am excited about the positive momentum of change and development at the Center and welcome your continued input and involvement as we move forward.  I look forward to your feedback and comments about Advances.

First Page    Previous Page    Next Page    Last Page

Meet Mark Hughes, M.D., Ph.D.

3 ADVANCES June 1998

Previous Page               Next Page

First Page    Previous Page    Next Page    Last Page

New Biotechnology/Technology Transfer
Program Helps WSU Faculty Seek Grants

4 ADVANCES June 1998

Previous Page             Next Page

A chemistry professor is preparing a grant application but needs help writing an important section on molecular biology.  He also needs some preliminary data to establish the feasibility of his proposed experiments, but isn't sure of the molecular techniques to use and is short on time to learn before the application is due.

CMMG Virtual Library

Please visit the new online CMMG Virtual Library, developed in partnership with the Shiffman Medical Library.  The CMMG Virtual Library is a new endeavor in which scientific journals are made available online to Wayne State University scientists.  Accessible through the World Wide Web at URL: http://www.lib.wayne.edu/
, the CMMG Virtual Library is pioneering the presentation of journals online here at WSU.  All comments and suggestions concerning the CMMG Virtual Library are welcome, and may be forwarded to Dr. Stephen Krawetz of the CMMG, at 313-577-6770, steve@compbio.med.wayne.edu, or Keir Reavie of the Shiffman Library,

CMMG Scientific Retreat

The CMMG Scientific Retreat will be held the weekend of October 2-3, 1998.  The anticipated location is Bay Valley, Michigan, with participants departing from the Detroit area on Friday morning by bus.  The planned activities will start with a scientific poster session, followed by lectures and an invited speaker.  Mark Hughes, M.D., Ph.D., (313-
993-1353, mrhughes@erols.com) invites any comments, suggestions and volunteers.

First Page    Previous Page    Next Page    Last Page

Human Genome Project: 
Impact on Clinical Medicine

5 ADVANCES June 1998

Previous Page               Next Page

The Human Genome Project (HGP) began in 1990 with the goal of discovering all of the 60,000 to 80,000 human genes (the human genome) and determining the complete sequence of the three billion DNA base pairs.

individual's personal privacy and the possibility of genetic discrimination.  It also reveals information about the rest of the family who may or may not want this knowledge.

The ability to obtain genetic information about individuals, families, and even populations clearly raises questions about who will have access to this information and how it will be used.  Since the beginning of the HGP, it was recognized that questions about the societal implications of genetic information would need to be anticipated and addressed prior to its clinical application.  Consequently, a portion of the HGP budget is being spent to develop programs and policies to address the ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSI) related to the rapid progress in understanding human genetics.  This effort represents the largest research investment ever in ethics.

The practice of medicine will be dramatically changed when clinical applications based on DNA diagnostics emerge as a result of the HGP.  Emphasis will shift from treatment of the sick to primary prevention of disease.  Clinicians will be able to identify individuals predisposed to certain diseases and will develop novel therapeutic approaches based on new classes of drugs, immunotherapy techniques, avoidance of environmental conditions that trigger disease, and possible replacement of defective genes through gene therapy.

For more information about the Human Genome Project, explore this Web site: http://www.ornl.gov/

First Page    Previous Page    Next Page    Last Page

WSU Human Genetics Program
Receives "Targets of Opportunity" Funding

6 ADVANCES June 1998

Previous Page             Next Page

Every aspect of human experience is influenced by genetics.  Most human health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurological and neuromuscular disorders, have recognized genetic components.  And although lifestyle and other environmental factors play a role in disease development and progression, research has linked them with genetic susceptibility.

ago to establish a campus-wide, comprehensive research program that addresses the most current issues in the field.  The Genetics Program originally sought funding under WSU's Centers for Excellence initiative (which later became the Targets" program).  Evans and colleagues expect the Genetics Program will develop faster now that the grant has been received.

WSU already has national prominence in fetal therapy, bone marrow transplantation, immune diseases, cancer, and molecular toxicology, which are areas closely aligned with genetic factors of disease, prevention, and potential gene therapy for diseases.  The Genetics Program proposes to expand these prominent research areas through an interdisciplinary enhancement of human genetics research.

The Genetics Program will tie together several separate foci of genetics activity on campus, and represents a collaborative effort among multiple departments in the School of Medicine, the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, the Karmanos Cancer Institute, the Institute of Chemical Toxicology, the Environmental Health Sciences Center in Molecular and Cellular Toxicology, the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, and the College of Science.

The six key areas to be addressed by the Genetics Program include: developmental genetics and fetal therapy; genetic screening; biostatistical studies and community-based research (e.g. susceptibility

First Page    Previous Page    Next Page    Last Page

Center Welcomes New Faculty

Michael A. Tainsky, Ph.D., joins the Center faculty July 1, 1998, as professor (also with pathology, biological sciences, and Karmanos Cancer Institute).  He most recently served as professor in the Department of Tumor Biology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where he was also professor in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.  Dr. Tainsky will serve Wayne State as program leader, Cancer Genetics and Molecular Therapy, where he will be responsible for the overall direction, development, and coordination of that program.

7 ADVANCES June 1998

Previous Page             Next Page

cytochrome c oxidase genes. Electrophoresis, in press.

Michail Kolonin
attended the 39th Annual Drosophilia Research Conference in March in Washington, DC. His trip was made possible in part by the financial award he received as the runner-up in the poster competition at the Rownd Symposium last fall.

David O'Hagan and Center faculty member Dr. Gerardus Tromp are collaborating with a biotechnology company, Genomic Solutions, to develop the use of micro array technology for the purpose of "expression profiling."

Sompong Vongpunsawad
and Xioaju Wang presented posters at the Fifth Joint Clinical Genetics Meeting on February 27-March 1 in Los Angeles, Calif.  Vongspunsawad received a Travel Award to attend.

Sungpil Yoon received a scholarship to attend the workshop, "Population Genetics Data Analysis" at the 1998 Summer Institute in Statistical Genetics at North Carolina State University.  He also received an award from the American Foundation for Aging Research.

Alumni News

Dominique Broccoli (Ph.D. '92) has accepted a position as associate member at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Chi-hua Chiu (Ph.D. '97) has been awarded an NSF/Sloan Foundation postdoctoral fellowship to support her study of molecular evolution at Yale University.

First Page    Previous Page    Next Page    Last Page

Mark Your Calendars for the Third Annual Bumpers for Babies Classic Car Show

8 ADVANCES June 1998

Previous Page               First Page

More than 100 Concours-level cars will highlight the Third Annual Bumpers for Babies Classic Car Show on Sunday, September 20, 1998, at the Alger Estate on the grounds of the Grosse Pointe War Memorial.

Last year, the car show raised $50,000 to help expectant parents travel to Detroit for the services of the internationally known Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy.  The center consists of a multidisciplinary team of experts, including several members of the Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics faculty, dedicated to treating birth defects and genetic conditions in fetuses before birth.  The overwhelming success of the previous car shows has enabled nearly two dozen families to receive this highly specialized fetal medical evaluation and treatment.

Bumpers for Babies has become one of the premiere auto shows of the entire year thanks in large part to the creativity and hard work of faculty member, Mark P. Johnson, M.D.

This year's show will feature the Grand Saloons of the Great Gatsby Era, including Dusenbergs, Bugattis, and Pierce-Arrows and a special tribute to the Designs of Donald Healey and other classic sports designs.  For the first time, Bumpers for Babies will also include a black tie social event the Friday before the show at the Alger Mansion.

If you are interested in contributing to this program or volunteering to help with this year's show, please contact the WSU School of Medicine Development Office at 313-577-1495.

Advances is published by the Center for Molecular Medicine & Genetics.

This newsletter is  edited by
Anne E. Greb, M.S.

David D. Womble, Ph.D.
313-577-2374 dwomble@cmb.biosci.wayne.edu

The online version of this newsletter and other information about the CMMG are available at the CMMG World Wide Web site:

Wayne State University School of Medicine
Enhancing Research and Training in Molecular Medicine and Genetics

Wayne State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Center for
Molecular Medicine
& Genetics

Wayne State University School of Medicine
3216 Scott Hall
540 East Canfield
Detroit, MI 48201

First Page    Previous Page    Next Page    Last Page