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12-02-2015

Clarkson University Professor Completes Famous Developmental Biologist's Gene Regulatory Networks Course

Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Biology Cintia F. Hongay has graduated from the two-week intensive course on gene regulatory networks at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass.  

GERN 2015Tenured and untenured faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and advanced Ph.D. students were among the 24 students from all over the world who attended this seminal course created many years ago by Eric H. Davidson, a famous developmental biologist at the California Institute of Technology.

This course is the culmination of more than 30 years of his work on gene regulation that began in 1969 with the seminal paper in Science magazine, "Gene Regulation for Higher Cells: A Theory." As a discipline, gene regulatory networks offers the first causal mechanistic view of development at the systems level.

"It was a wonderful yet bittersweet experience as Eric passed away a month prior to the start of the course," Hongay said. "I have dreamt for a long time to meet him personally. He is an inspiration for all of us underdogs taking risks following our passion for biology and science in general. He was a pioneer in more ways than one, establishing sea urchins as a model for molecular biology."

Davidson's colleagues and collaborators pitched in to keep the course as scheduled: teaching, leading discussions, helping with wet and dry lab projects, and keeping everyone functioning at their highest intellectual potential. Their love and admiration for Davidson was omnipresent, said Hongay.

Hongay added that she thanks the National Institutes of Health, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and MBL for providing the funds that allowed her to attend this course.

This spring, she will be offering two new courses at Clarkson inspired by her recent studies at MBL: BY 615, a version of the MBL course that is one semester long and open to graduate students or advanced undergraduates with permission of instructor; and BY216, Classical Genetics Laboratory: Theory and Practice.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University Assistant Professor of Biology Cintia F. Hongay (back row, far left), has graduated from the two-week intensive course on gene regulatory networks at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/chongay-gern2015.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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