Dr. Cooper, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics at Washington State University, will give a lecture entitled, Modeling Human Pigmentation with Zebrafish Stripes. The lecture is being held at University of Portland and is cosponsored by the UP Biology Department.
Black pigment cells, or melanocytes, produce pigments that determine hair, skin and eye color in humans. Most critically, melanocytes initiate the tanning response, an event functioning to protect our skin cells from DNA-damaging ultraviolet light. Changes in the genetic properties and function of melanocytes are thought to lead to melanoma, a cancer of melanocytes that leads to the largest percentage of skin cancer related deaths. In their advanced stages, melanoma cells have lost many features characteristic of normal melanocytes, suggested by their ability to cross tissue boundaries, move throughout the body and set up tumors in distant locations. The model organism, Danio rerio zebrafish, has very similar cells (called melanophores) which we study in the hopes of finding new genes that participate in maintaining normal melanocyte features and function. A better understanding of genes involved in normal melanocyte development may shed light on new ways to prevent melanoma. The biology of human pigmentation, the similarities between zebrafish and human pigment cells, and the significance of finding new genes involved in pigment cell development will be discussed.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012, 7:30PM
Mago Hunt Recital Hall
University of Portland
5000 N. Willamette Blvd., 97203
(Parking is free after 7 pm. TriMet access by Bus 44-Mocks Crest)
This lecture is free and open to the public.