Faculty discuss genetics to promote new documentary
In conjunction with Ken Burns’ new documentary “The Gene: An Intimate History,” KLRN interviewed three UT Health San Antonio researchers about how genetics has impacted their lives and work.
Jannine Cody, Ph.D.; Sudha Seshadri, M.D.; and Gregory Aune, M.D., Ph.D., recorded remarks in a TED Talks-format at the KLRN studios.
Dr. Cody is a professor of pediatrics in the Long School of Medicine and is the founder and president of the Chromosome 18 Registry and Research Society. As a young person, she was always interested in science and this came into play when her daughter, Elizabeth, was born with a Chromosome 18 syndrome. The syndrome was extremely rare and clinical information didn’t exist. This ultimately led Dr. Cody to a research career, including a Ph.D. in 1997 from the Long School of Medicine, and interactions with hundreds of families worldwide.
Dr. Seshadri is a professor of neurology and director of the Glenn Biggs Institute for Alzheimer’s and Neurodegenerative Diseases. She discussed her mother’s struggle with multiple sclerosis, a neurological disease, that caused her mother to become a shell of herself. Dr. Seshadri, in turn, became a neurologist interested in treating and curing dementia. Currently, she participates in research consortia that are analyzing genes in half a million people. Thanks to genetic discoveries, seven or eight new pathways are potential drug targets for dementia, she said.
Dr. Aune is an associate professor of pediatrics and an investigator with the Greehey Children’s Cancer Research Institute. As a teenager, Dr. Aune battled and beat Hodgkin lymphoma. The experience led him into pediatric oncology and to an interest in the health problems related to cancer survivorship. In adulthood, Dr. Aune suffered scarred lungs, severe heart disease and a mild stroke. All were complications of the chemotherapy and radiation he had as a teenager. Today he studies why such outcomes are seen in up to 20% of children who survive childhood cancer.
KLRN will promote the documentary using clips of the local scientists’ comments. The documentary will air on April 7 and 14.