New territory

first_imgA consortium led by scientists at the University of Oxford and Harvard Medical School has constructed the world’s most detailed genetic map.A genetic map specifies the precise areas in the genetic material of a sperm or egg where the DNA from the mother and father has been reshuffled in order to produce this single reproductive cell. The biological process whereby this reshuffling occurs is known as “recombination.” While almost every genetic map built so far has been developed from people of European ancestry, this new map is the first constructed from African-American recombination genomic data.“This is the world’s most accurate genetic map,” said David Reich, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, who co-led the study with Simon Myers, a lecturer in the Department of Statistics at the University of Oxford.African-Americans often have a mixture of African and European ancestry from over the last 200 years. Reich and Myers are experts in analyzing genetic data to reconstruct the mosaic of regions of African and European genetic ancestry in DNA of African-Americans. By applying a computer program they wrote, Anjali Hinch, first author and a post-graduate student at Oxford University’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, identified the places in the genomes where the African and European ancestry switches in almost 30,000 people, detecting about 70 switches per person. These areas corresponded to recombination events in the last few hundred years. Thus, the researchers identified more than 2 million recombination events that they used to build the map.The researchers were surprised to find that positions where recombination occurs in African-Americans are significantly different from those in non-African populations.“The landscape of recombination has shifted in African-Americans compared with Europeans,” said Hinch.Myers added, “More than half of African-Americans carry a version of the biological machinery for recombination that is different than Europeans’. As a result, African-Americans experience recombination where it almost never occurs in Europeans.”The findings will be published in the July 21 edition of Nature.An independent study that used a similar strategy to build a genetic map in African-Americans — led by University of California, Los Angeles, scientists Daniel Wegmann, Nelson Freimer, and John Novembre — will be published in Nature Genetics.Scientists have only recently begun to explore the genetic differences between individuals and populations — and the role those differences play in human health. In that respect, the first draft of the human genome, completed a decade ago, was only a starting point for understanding the genetic origins of disease.As researchers begin to parse those differences, a crucial tool is a genetic map, which in this case was based on where recombination has occurred across the genome.  Recombination, together with mutation, accounts for all the genetic (and thus physical) variety we see within species. But while mutation refers to the errors introduced into single locations within genomes when cells divide, recombination refers to the process by which huge chunks of chromosomes are stitched together during sexual reproduction.But this stitching process occurs only at specific locations. In a prior set of papers, Myers and his colleagues identified a DNA code, or motif, that attracted part of the recombination machinery, a gene called PRDM9. Knowing the motif, a string of 13 DNA letters, researchers could zero in on the locations where recombination typically occurred — “recombination hot spots.”“When recombination goes wrong, it can lead to mutations causing congenital diseases, for example diseases like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, or certain anemias,” said Myers.Said Reich, “The places in the genome where there are recombination hot spots can thus also be disease hot spots. Charting recombination hot spots can thus identify places in the genome that have an especially high chance of causing disease.”The researchers discovered that the 13 base-pair motif that is responsible for many of the hot spots in Europeans accounts for only two-thirds as much recombination in African-Americans. They connected the remaining third to a new motif of 17 base pairs, which is recognized by a version of the recombinational machinery that occurs almost exclusively in people of African ancestry.These findings are expected to help researchers understand the roots of congenital conditions that occur more often in African-Americans (due to mutations at hot spots that are more common in African-Americans), and also to help discover new disease genes in all populations, because of the ability to map these genes more precisely.The study was possible because of collaboration from 81 co-authors, using DNA samples from five large studies that have been carried out to study common diseases such as heart disease and cancer, funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and many private foundations.Said James Wilson, a professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center who was responsible for coordinating the collaboration, “All the co-authors worked together in an incredibly collegial way to put together the enormous set of samples and high quality genetic data that made this study a success.”The recombination map is here.last_img read more

Students receive mobile tickets for football games

first_imgThis year, student season ticket holders received their tickets in emailed PDF-form, allowing them to access the tickets on mobile devices and making the distribution process more efficient, assistant athletics director for ticketing and technology Rob Kelly said.“For those who came back on campus at the end of the summer and beginning of the fall semester, to pick up your tickets, you’d have to wait in line,” Kelly said. “If you were a freshman, you’d have to wait in a very long line because you were not only picking up a student booklet, but you were also paying for it at the same time.”The weather during last year’s ticket distribution also played a role in the decision to issue mobile tickets, Kelly said.“Last year, students were out in the heat, sweating,” he said. “We were out there handing out bottles of water, the heat was so bad.”Kelly said an evaluation of the student ticketing process revealed an opportunity to streamline the sale and distribution of tickets.“[The evaluation] gave us the opportunity to really improve that process, and I think we gave some of that time back to freshmen during their first couple days of classes,” he said. “It also saved the rest of the student body a trip to the ticket office.”Mobile tickets also allow students to carry fewer items on game days, Kelly said.“When everybody has their phone on game day, now this is one less thing to worry about,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about leaving them in your dorm. If you’ve got your phone, you’ve got them with you.”The switch to mobile tickets is a response to the wider use of technology, Kelly said, since “mobile is the future.”“More and more students are living off of their phone, [so] this just made great sense,” he said. “We’ve taken from the challenge from our administration to be more technologically capable, to really change with the time where we can while still honoring tradition.”A growing number of schools, including the University of Michigan, are experimenting with mobile ticketing, said Kelly.“Last year, Michigan was one of just a handful, maybe 10 or 12 schools, that went mobile for their student body,” he said. “There’s something like 40 or more schools that are doing mobile ticketing, and we’re in that cohort now.”Kelly said students who still wish to have memorabilia from the 2014 football season will be able to order a commemorative ticket sheet at the end of the season.“We know tickets can be a very emotional experience for people, and that they can hold a lot of meaning and value even beyond the event,” he said. “So we received some feedback from a few individuals who put a high value on being able to have that ticket booklet and keep it as part of a collection. We did consider this in advance, and while we didn’t think it actually made sense to create a replica ticket booklet, we will provide for students to elect to receive a commemorative ticket sheet. It has the beautiful design of all the real iconic images of Notre Dame football and the University of Notre Dame on it.”Kelly said the use of the mobile tickets went smoothly this past weekend for the football game against Rice.“I think there’s always a learning curve. I think it’s fair to say that it was slightly slower,” he said. “I’m confident that’s going to go away the farther we get into the season, as everybody gets more familiar with the process, ushers and students alike.”Kelly said for future games, the ushers will be more rigorous about asking students to keep their phones out as they enter the seating sections after the gate.“When people get their tickets scanned at the gate, their natural inclination is to put your phone to sleep and stick your phone in your pocket,” he said. “I think that led to some challenges as people got to their seating section, it was a little more difficult to validate that you were in the section you were supposed to be in, unless the usher was actually asking to see your ticket.”Notre Dame students and fans can expect to see mobile tickets for other sports as well, Kelly said.“We’re learning a lot from this experience, and we’re really excited about the opportunity of potentially offering mobile as an option for other ticket holders, and if not in football, certainly in our other sports,” he said.Tags: football, Football tickets, season ticketslast_img read more

Tickets Now On Sale for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Allegro

first_img Show Closed This production ended its run on Dec. 14, 2014 Tickets are now available to see Claybourne Elder and Elizabeth A. Davis in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro. Directed by John Doyle, the production will play a limited off-Broadway engagement November 1 through December 7. Opening night is set for November 19 at Classic Stage Company. View Comments Allegro was Richard Rodgers’ and Oscar Hammerstein II’s third collaboration and first premiered on Broadway in 1947. The musical chronicles nearly four decades in the life of an Everyman, Joseph Taylor Jr. (Elder), from cradle through a mid-life discovery of who he is and what his life is truly about. The saga takes us from Joe’s birth through his childhood, from college dorm to marriage altar, and on to his career; from the tranquility of his small Midwestern hometown to the hectic din of big city life. Allegro The cast will also include George Abud, Alma Cuervo, Malcolm Gets, Maggie Lakis, Megan Loomis, Paul Lincoln, Jane Pfitsch, Randy Redd, Ed Romanoff and Jessica Tyler Wright. Related Showslast_img read more