What do sharks, dogs, and humans have in common in the fight against cancer? Sister, brother duo to present findings at Mississippi event

Published 7:45 am Tuesday, March 21, 2023

A National Institutes of Health geneticist and a biomedical researcher and professor bring scientific insights—from human-canine genetic links to myths surrounding sharks and cancer—to this year’s Giles Distinguished Lecture Series.

Elaine Ostrander, chief investigator for the NIH Cancer Genetics and Comparative Genomics Branch, gives two talks March 30, “How to Build a Dog in 2,392,236 Simple Steps” at 9:30 a.m. in Bettersworth Auditorium and “Happiness is a Warm Puppy and Its Complete Genome Sequence” at 3:45 p.m. in the Old First-Year Classroom, College of Veterinary Medicine.

“How to Build a Dog” focuses on the influence of humans on the shaping of dog breeds and why some are prone to specific diseases, including cancer. “Happiness is a Warm Puppy” delves into dog cancer genetics as an informant on research of the same diseases in humans.

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Interested in “all things dogs,” Elaine is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and is an elected member to the National Academy of Sciences. In both 2019 and 2021, she received the NIH Director’s Award and was the 2020 National Human Genome Research Institute Mentor of the Year. Holding a Ph.D. from Oregon Health Sciences University, she did her postdoctoral training at Harvard University and University of California, Berkeley.

Gary Ostrander, professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in Florida State University’s School of Medicine, speaks on March 31 on “Shark Cancer, Shark Cartilage and the Continuing Threat of Pseudoscience” at 10 a.m. in Dorman Hall, Room 140. He will debunk the myths that sharks don’t get cancer and that shark cartilage extracts treat human cancers. The falsehood has led to a dramatic decline in shark populations worldwide and to a diversion of cancer patients from effective treatments.

A former vice president for research and president of the Research Foundation at Florida State University, Gary also served as vice chancellor for research and graduate education at the University of Hawaii. He also has held positions as associate provost for research and chair of the graduate board at Johns Hopkins University and as Oklahoma State University Graduate School dean. A doctoral graduate of the University of Washington, he completed postdoctoral work in the UW Medical School’s Department of Pathology.

The brother and sister have had an ongoing collaboration on BRCA1, or BReast CAncer gene 1, research and other projects.

All three lectures are free and open to the public.

For more information on both March 30 and 31 morning lectures, contact Merrill Warkentin, James J. Rouse Endowed Professor of Information Systems, Department of Management and Information Systems, at m.warkentin@msstate.edu. For the March 30 afternoon lecture at CVM, contact Daniel Peterson, director, Institute of Genomics, Biocomputing and Biotechnology, dp127@msstate.edu.