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The Social Impact of Epigenetics

Sunday, June 2, 2013
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Epigenetic discoveries reveal that environmental, dietary, behavioral, and medical experiences can significantly affect the development of an individual and sometimes their offspring. Identification of targets for epigenetic therapy is becoming a public health priority. As we trace epigenetic health problems back, will we begin to point a finger? Who takes responsibility for epigenetic changes? Explore the implications in ethics, society, and the law.

The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Bill BlakemoreNews Correspondent

Bill Blakemore became a reporter for ABC News 46 years ago, covering a wide variety of stories. He spearheaded ABC’s coverage of global warming, traveling from the tropics to polar regions to report on its impacts, dangers, and possible remedies.

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Frances A. ChampagneBehavioral Scientist

Frances A. Champagne is an associate professor in the department of psychology at Columbia University. Champagne received a master’s degree in psychiatry in 1999 and a doctoral degree in neuroscience in 2004 from McGill University.

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Nita A. FarahanyBioethicist, Law Professor

Nita A. Farahany is a Professor of Law & Philosophy at Duke University and the director of Duke Science & Society. In 2010, she was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and continues to serve as a member.

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Lone FrankJournalist, Author

Lone Frank is an award-winning science journalist and author with a Ph.D. in neurobiology and a background in biomedical research. A native of Denmark, she lives in Copenhagen and is a well-known voice in European debates relating to science, technology, and society.

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Julie HerbstmanEpidemiologist

Trained as an epidemiologist, Julie Herbstman’s research focuses on the impact of prenatal exposures to environmental pollutants, including polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) on child growth and development.

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Jean-Pierre IssaMolecular Biologist

Jean-Pierre Issa is a professor of medicine and director at Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at Temple University. Issa’s laboratory has made important contributions to the understanding of the importance of epigenetics in the pathophysiology and treatment of cancer.

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Randy L. JirtleGeneticist

Randy Jirtle headed the epigenetics and imprinting laboratory at Duke University until 2012. He is presently a visiting professor at McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Jirtle’s research interests are in epigenetics, genomic imprinting, and the fetal origins of disease susceptibility.

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