Developer of Dog Genome Project to Discuss Genetics Behind Dog Traits at MBL Friday Evening Lecture, June 29

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Contact: Gina Hebert
Senior Publicist/Development Communications
Marine Biological Laboratory
Phone: (508) 289-7725


Canine genetics a model for understanding human development


Elaine OstranderMBL, Woods Hole, MA –Dr. Elaine Ostrander, Chief of the Cancer Genetics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health will discuss her work on genes that control the morphology and traits of dogs at the next MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Friday Evening Lecture on Friday, June 29. The lecture, “Genetics of Complex Traits in the Domestic Dog,” will be held at 8:00 PM in the MBL’s Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. The event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Ostrander’s laboratory is interested in the study of genes important in growth regulation, particularly as it pertains to disease states in humans and canines. Her group aims to find genes that control the morphologic body plan of the domestic dog, which shows an extraordinary level of variation between breeds, and to identify disease susceptibility genes in dogs.

Dogs are useful for genetic studies because selective mating has generated a diverse range of breeds that are defined by specific morphological characteristics. Scientists are able to identify genes responsible for traits such as body size, fur, leg length and width, skull shape, back arch, tail curl, and ear position—as well as resistance or susceptibility to cancer and other diseases. Dr. Ostrander’s work on the Dog Genome Project has greatly helped to advance canine health research by providing researchers with a valuable tool to discover the genetic causes of canine diseases.

dogsUnderstanding canine genetics provides a good model for understanding human development. Dr. Ostrander’s research also focuses on the identification of genes that relate to susceptibility to, progression of, and specific outcomes in individuals with breast and prostate cancer.

Dr. Ostrander received her Ph.D. from the Oregon Health Sciences University, and did her postdoctoral training at Harvard. She then went to the University of California, Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, where, with collaborators, she began the canine genome project. She was at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington for 12 years, rising to the rank of Member in the Human Biology and Clinical Research Divisions, and Head of the Genetics Program. Dr. Ostrander has published more than 250 papers and articles.

The Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the summer at the MBL. The remaining lectures in the series are below. For more information, visit

July 6, 2012

“Deconstructing the Complexity of Vertebrate Limb and Spinal Cord Regeneration”
Elly M. Tanaka, Center for Regenerative Therapies, Technische Universität Dresden

July 13, 2012

“Earth at Seven Billion”
Jesse H. Ausubel, The Rockefeller University

July 20, 2012, Forbes Lecture

“Using Deadly Cone Snails to Understand Nervous Systems”
Baldomero M. Olivera, University of Utah; Howard Hughes Medical Institute

July 27, 2012

“Is Science Revolutionary? Thomas Kuhn and the Structure of Science”
Jed Z. Buchwald, California Institute of Technology and Paul Hoyningen-Huene, University of Hannover, Germany

August 3, 2012, Glassman Lecture

“Protein Folding in the Cell: The final Step of Information Transfer”
Arthur L. Horwich, Yale University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

August 10, 2012, Joshua Lederberg Lecture

“Food and Sex: The Neurogenetics of Innate Behavior”
Leslie B. Vosshall, The Rockefeller University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute

August 17, 2012, Sager Lecture

“How Bacteria Talk To Each Other”
Bonnie L. Bassler, Princeton University; Howard Hughes Medical Institute

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The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.