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Raeka Aiyar, Ph.D.
GSA Communications and Engagement Manager
C: 202.412.1120 | O: 301.634.7302
press@genetics-gsa.org

 

For Immediate Release
Friday, February 27, 2015

 

Disease, evolution, neurology, and drugs: Fruit fly research continues to teach us about human biology
Conference in Chicago to highlight recent advances in genetics research

GSA Drosophila Research Conference

BETHESDA, MD – Over 1,500 scientists from 30 countries and 46 states will attend next week's 56th Annual Drosophila Research Conference organized by the Genetics Society of America (GSA), March 4–8 in Chicago, IL. The conference will feature close to 1,000 presentations (including 170 talks) describing cutting-edge research on genetics, developmental biology, cancer, stem cells, neurology, epigenetics, genetic disease, aging, immunity, behavior, drug discovery, and technology. It is the largest meeting in the world that brings together researchers who use the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster to study biology.

 

Of special note are scientists whose achievements in genetics are being honored through awards and special lectures:

  • The keynote address will be given by Allan Spradling (Carnegie Institution for Science, Baltimore; Howard Hughes Medical Institute), who will discuss the essential role Drosophila plays in biological research.
  • GSA's Thomas Hunt Morgan Award for lifetime achievement in the field of genetics will be presented to Brian Charlesworth (University of Edinburgh) for his profound impact on population genetics and evolutionary biology.
  • The Genetics Society of America Medal for outstanding contributions to genetics in the past 15 years will be presented to Steve Henikoff (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center).
  • The Larry Sandler Memorial Award winner lecture will be presented by this year's awardee, who is recognized for an outstanding PhD thesis in Drosophila research.
  • Several early career researchers have won awards supporting their travel to the conference: six undergraduate researchers who received Victoria Finnerty Undergraduate Travel Awards from the Drosophila community and GSA; one undergraduate student recipient of the Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) travel grant from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology; and eight PhD student and postdoc recipients of GSA's DeLill Nasser Award for Professional Development in Genetics.

The fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster is one of the most versatile and widely used model organisms applied to the study of genetics, physiology, and evolution. Drosophila research has led to some of the most significant breakthroughs in our understanding of biology, including five Nobel prizes. It is an effective system for studying a range of human genetic diseases, ranging from cancer to diabetes to neurodegenerative disorders. Fruit flies are a valuable resource for biomedical research because of the efficiency and cost-effectiveness with which comprehensive, sensitive, and accurate biological data can be generated. Research presented at the Drosophila conference, like that at other GSA conferences, helps advance our fundamental understanding of living systems and provides crucial insight into human biology, health and disease.

 

The conference will take place at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers at 301 East North Water Street. The organizers include Gregory J. Beitel, PhD (Northwestern University), Michael Eisen (University of California, Berkeley; Howard Hughes Medical Institute), Marc Freeman (University of Massachusetts Medical School; Howard Hughes Medical Institute), and Ilaria Rebay (University of Chicago). For additional information, please see the conference website at http://www.genetics-gsa.org/drosophila/2015/.

 

More information on the importance of Drosophila research:

  Fruit Flies in Biomedical Research. Michael F. Wangler, Shinya Yamamoto, and Hugo J. Bellen. Genetics; Early online January 26, 2015

 

Media Eligibility: 
The 2015 Drosophila Research Conference is open to media representatives, including those from bona fide print, broadcast, radio, and online venues, and freelance writers on a verifiable assignment from an established news source. Please contact press@genetics-gsa.org for information about complimentary press registration.

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About the Genetics Society of America (GSA)

Founded in 1931, the Genetics Society of America (GSA) is the professional scientific society for genetics researchers and educators. The Society’s more than 5,000 members worldwide work to deepen our understanding of the living world by advancing the field of genetics, from the molecular to the population level. GSA promotes research and fosters communication through a number of GSA-sponsored conferences including regular meetings that focus on particular model organisms. GSA publishes two peer-reviewed, peer-edited scholarly journals: GENETICS, which has published high quality original research across the breadth of the field since 1916, and G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics, an open-access journal launched in 2011 to disseminate high quality foundational research in genetics and genomics. The Society also has a deep commitment to education and fostering the next generation of scholars in the field. For more information about GSA, please visit www.genetics-gsa.org.

 

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