WHEN: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2011 at 12 noon
Dr. ALEA MILLS – Professor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Where Will the Future of Genetic Technology Take Us?
Gene Hunter Dr. Mills Has Found DNA Hotspots For Cancer, Aging and Autism
Meet Dr. Alea Mills, a molecular geneticist at the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long Island, who has already, in her short lifetime, made historic scientific advances that may lead to a cure for cancer and/or autism and help us to uncover the cellular process that causes aging.
Wait, you say, she did all this while I was watching the Yankees? Actually, no. Dr. Mills has done all this over an 11-year period; in 1997, she got her Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of California, where she first became entranced with the fairly new scientific ability to manipulate chromosomes.
“We call it chromosome engineering,” says Dr. Mills. “You can actually engineer chromosomes by what I call molecular scissors. You can clip out a piece, you can cut a piece out of one chromosome and put it on another chromosome, you can add an extra piece of a chromosome. This is a really huge new technology.”
Discovers New Gene
Intrigued by this new technology, Dr. Mills did a post-doctoral residency in Houston to focus on it and, she tells us, “ almost by mistake in the lab, I discovered a whole new gene that people didn’t know existed. It turns out, this gene is critical; it’s related to a cancer gene called p63. There are seven different human disease syndromes that are caused by p63 mutations. They’ve also linked p63 to aging.”
OK, that’s enough by itself to put Dr. Mills into the Madame Curie-discovering- radium category, but Mills has gone on to make other DNA hotspot discoveries. Most recently, she discovered a genetic cluster that, when deleted, may be a cause of autism.
Exciting, Buoyant Speaker
“This is really exciting work,” says the personable, articulate Dr. Mills, who is also a professor at the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which is ranked number one in the world for its research in molecular biology--and where she is also teaching young people about the new world of genetic engineering. Mills doesn’t mention the long hours she puts in or that she had to work her way through undergraduate college because, for her family in upstate New York, where she grew up on a farm, there wasn’t enough money to put her and her four brothers through college.
But to listen to Dr. Mills is to realize that the word that best describes her is, perhaps, “buoyant.” She is thrilled to be a professor at Cold Spring Harbor, which has housed eight Nobel Prize winners. She is excited to be teaching young people who will become future scientists. She is modest about her world shaking discoveries. But how many of us have discovered a gene? How many of us can say we have made some progress in the search for cures for cancer or autism? How many of us will be able say, in the end, that our lives have mattered in the impact on others as much as hers has?
Come hear this exuberant young woman scientist, in an age where women scientists are still relatively uncommon, at the NYC Atheists brunch on October 14th..
Come and give a hand to this persistent, hard-working, uncommon woman who has given so much to us already and hear how she is helping to change the world so that you and I can live a longer, better life.
WHAT: “WHERE WILL THE FUTURE OF GENETIC TECHNOLOGY
TAKE US?” by Dr. Alea A. Mills, professor and head of the Mills
Lab at the renowned Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Long
WHEN: SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14 at 12 noon.
WHERE: THE PRESS BOX
932 Second Ave. (Bet. 49th & 50th)
COST: BRUNCH IS $20, which includes a selection
of Buffet entrees, salad, a soft drink, coffee,
tax and tip. We are avid fans of the Eggs