Dr. James Turner, Division of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics, MRC National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London.
Wednesday 15th October, 5.00 p.m., Woolf Lecture Theatre, University of Kent
Free and open to all
Most people would readily accept that men and women are different. Although some of these differences, for example in anatomy and biochemistry, are obvious, others are less commonly appreciated. For instance, women suffer from rheumatoid arthritis more often than men, and conversely, men are more commonly diagnosed with autism than women. Why is this the case? The answer is that men and women differ fundamentally in their genetic make-up.
Genes are carried on chromosomes, and most of these chromosomes are identical between the sexes. However, one particular pair of chromosomes, the aptly-termed “sex chromosomes” is not the same in men and women. Women have two copies of a long, gene rich chromosome called the X chromosome, while men have one X chromosome, and a second, gene-poor, wimpy chromosome called the Y chromosome. As well as influencing disease susceptibility, these sex chromosomes determine whether a human embryo will go on to develop as a boy or a girl, and they have an especially important role in male and female fertility during later life.
In this presentation, I will explain how and why sex chromosomes appeared in our ancestors, and the benefits and drawbacks that they have for human health. I will also discuss how research into sex chromosomes is represented in the popular media, and how cutting edge research on these unusual chromosomes is creating new potential disease treatments.
James studied Medicine at University College London, during which he also carried out a PhD in sex chromosome genetics at the Medical Research Council National Institute for Medical Research, London with Paul Burgoyne. He subsequently worked as a junior physician at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust, before returning to NIMR London to continue his work on sex chromosome genetics as a postdoctoral scientist. He completed his postdoctoral training in the laboratories of Peter Warburton, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and David Page, Whitehead Institute, USA, before starting his own research group at NIMR and becoming an honorary research associate at UCL in 2007. His research focuses on the evolution, cell biology and biochemistry of the sex chromosomes from a variety of organisms, including mammals, in order to understand how these chromosomes influence human health and disease.