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Genome Pioneer Venter Keynotes NYU Symposium On Momentous Impact of "Designer Microbes", Sept. 29


Famed geneticist J. Craig Venter, who mapped the human genome and now heads a global effort to create “designer microbes” to address some of the world’s most vexing global environmental and health problems, will keynote a symposium on the subject on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 2 to 4 p.m. at New York University’s Cantor Film Center (36 E. 8th St. at University Place [Subway Lines: R, W (8th Street); 6 (Astor Place)]).

Famed geneticist J. Craig Venter, who mapped the human genome and now heads a global effort to create “designer microbes” to address some of the world’s most vexing global environmental and health problems, will keynote a symposium on the subject on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 2 to 4 p.m. at New York University’s Cantor Film Center (36 E. 8th St. at University Place [Subway Lines: R, W (8th Street); 6 (Astor Place)]).

Venter’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion on the far-reaching implications of synthetic biology, in which the tools of genetics are used to modify living organisms or even create new ones. Potential applications include new energy sources, improved pharmaceuticals, and innovative ways to fight global warming by sequestering carbon. Panelists will include: Kathy Hudson, the Genetics and Public Policy Center; Robert Krulwich, National Public Radio; Michael Stebbins, the Federation of American Scientists; Dan Vergano, USA Today; and Apoorva Mandavilli (moderator), Nature Medicine. Venter will be introduced by Dan Fagin, associate professor and director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program (SHERP) in the NYU Department of Journalism.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, is part of the 25th anniversary celebration of SHERP, one of the oldest and most prestigious science journalism training programs in the country. Since 1982, it has produced more than 300 graduates who now hold leadership positions in print, television, radio and web journalism in the U.S. and more than 20 other countries. For more information, e-mail sherp.journalism@nyu.edu or call 212.998.7980. Journalists interested in attending should contact James Devitt, NYU’s Office of Public Affairs, at 212.998.6808 or james.devitt@nyu.edu.

As the then-president of Celera Genomics, Venter was a leading participant in the race to sequence the entire human genome, which consists of between 20,000 and 25,000 genes and about 3 billion base pairs of DNA. In 2000, Venter and Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health jointly announced the completion of the initial genome map at a White House press conference. Venter left Celera in 2002 and now heads the J. Craig Venter Institute, a non-profit genomics research institute that employs more than 500 scientists and staff in Rockville, MD, and La Jolla, CA.

  • WHAT: Symposium - “Life by Design: Synthetic Biology’s Implications for Science, Society and Mass Media”
  • WHO: J. Craig Venter and a panel of science policy analysts and journalists
  • WHEN: Sat., Sept. 29, 2 to 4 p.m.
  • WHERE: NYU’s Cantor Film Center (36 E. 8th St. at University Place)

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