Symposium Probes Impact Of Toxins On Development

May 24, 1999

MADISON - A symposium June 3-5 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will explore new research on the links between environmental toxins and disease, including birth defects and cancer.

"Horizons in Developmental Toxicology and Developmental Biology" will be held at the State Historical Society on Library Mall. Topics include how chemicals can cause toxic changes, why infants and children are most vulnerable, and why early exposure presents increased risk of later diseases such as cancer. Time will be set aside to discuss specific community concerns and priorities.

The meeting will also feature a public forum on lessons learned about the effects of chemicals on human health. The discussion, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, June 5, will be led by Thomas Zinnen of the Biotechnology Center and Kevin Niemi of the Center for Biology Education.

The symposium overall features research on developmental deficiencies that have environmental causes and on new genetic models that reveal the mechanics of development. Prominent symposium speakers include 1972 Nobel Prize-winner Gerald Edelman of Scripps Research Institute. He will speak at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, June 3, about topobiology, or an exploration of why genes are expressed in some places but not in others.

Kathy Sulik, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, will speak at 8:45 a.m. Friday on "Birth Defects Research: A Path to Prevention." She will begin a morning of research talks about chemically-induced birth defects in children.

The symposium is organized by the new UW-Madison Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by a grant from the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS). It is the first national event sponsored by the new UW center, directed by pharmacy professor Colin Jefcoate.

"In the past five to 10 years, there has been an explosion of work in developmental biology," Jefcoate said. "We want to close the gap between the study of animal models and potential human health impacts."
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For more information on the symposium, contact Jefcoate, 608-263-5557; or on the Saturday public forum, contact Zinnen, 608-265-2420.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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