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FOR RELEASE: April 1, 2003
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Advances in Genetics Celebrated in April - Genetics Month in Oklahoma

Fifty years ago this month, James Watson and Francis Crick published what would be their Nobel Prize-winning description of the DNA double helix. This accomplishment began a body of research that has resulted in tremendous gains in genetic information, screening, treatment, and counseling.

In celebration of the advances in genetics prompted by Watson and Crick’s work, (first published in Nature on April 25, 1953), the Genetics Program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, in collaboration with the Oklahoma Genetics Advisory Council, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, has planned a month-long series of events leading up to National DNA Day on April 25. Local events are planned for the public, high school students, and for health care and legal professionals. Featured public events include:

  • Omniplex presents two innovative genetic exhibits, the Spirit of Difference - Positive Exposure art exhibit by former fashion photographer Rick Guidotti and a map of the human genes discovered by Oklahoma scientists created by the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
  • Genetic books will be featured at local bookstores, including book signings by Terry Detrich, coauthor of The Spirit of Lo, a family story about cystic fibrosis.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Web site has a list of all activities planned for the month. Visit the Web site at www.health.state.ok.us/program/gp and select DNA Day. (A list of events is included with this release.)

The Oklahoma State Department of Health Genetics Program, with support from the Oklahoma Genetics Advisory Council, is working to advance genetics in Oklahoma. Federal funding from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration provided resources for the development of a State Genetics Plan with subsequent funds for implementation. The State Genetics Plan is a five-year action plan designed to ensure all Oklahomans have access to quality and timely genetic information, screening, education, and family-centered comprehensive services. Education of the public and health care providers about genetics is a high priority. The state health department’s genetics program will continue to host genetic education events and develop the genetics program Web site to meet the needs of Oklahomans. The State Genetics Plan can be viewed at the OSDH Web site.

Oklahoma has been nationally recognized for its collaborative efforts with genetic stakeholders through the Oklahoma Genetics Advisory Council and its committees. Four major highlights of these efforts include: (1) the award of federal funds to the genetics program at over $1.3 million dollars, (2) significant infrastructure components achieved for the expansion of the public health newborn screening program for additional disorders that could save infants lives, (3) the establishment of a genetic counseling program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and (4) ever increasing basic and applied genetic research and education.

For more information about the Public Health Genetics Program in Oklahoma, contact Pam King, MPA, RN, State Genetics Coordinator at (405) 271-6617 or 1-800-766-2223. To schedule a presentation on genetics in your community, contact Amber Nolen, MS, CGC, State Genetics Education Coordinator, at the above numbers.

Sponsors of Oklahoma Genetics Month activities include the following:

  • Children’s Medical Research Institute
  • Genetic Education Committee of Oklahoma (OGAC committee)
  • InterGenetics, Inc.
  • Oklahoma Genetics Advisory Council
  • Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation
  • Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) College of Medicine
  • OUHSC Department of Pediatrics
  • OUHSC Graduate Student Association
  • Omniplex
  • Presbyterian Health Foundation
  • State Genetics Program, Oklahoma State Department of Health

April Genetics Month Activities

April 1-30:
Genetics Book Display at Borders Books and Music, 3209 NW Expressway, Oklahoma City.

April 5:
Keynote address “Understanding the Debate about Human Stem Cell and Cloning” by Professor L.S.B. Goldstein, at the GREAT (Graduate Research Education and Technology) Symposium, Robert M Bird Library, 1000 Stanton L Young, Oklahoma City, Room 299, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

April 7:
Genetic lecture by John Mulvihill, MD, and Pam King, MPA, RN. Event will be held at the College of Public Health, 801 NE 13th, 12 p.m.

April 11:
The Genetics Education Committee of Oklahoma (GECO) will present a genetics workshop that is designed to enhance the knowledge of health care professionals and the public on genetics in medicine and the ethical and social issues unique to genetics. Highlights of the program include an interactive discussion with a panel comprised of individuals whose lives have been touched by a genetic condition. The workshop will be held at the Indian Capital Technology Center, Room 500, Muskogee.

April 12 - May 30:
Omniplex presents two innovative genetic exhibits: the Spirit of Difference - Positive Exposure art exhibit by former fashion photographer Rick Guidotti, and a map of the human genes discovered by Oklahoma scientists created by Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.

April 18:
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation sponsored DNA workshop for district attorneys. Distinguished presenters include Donald Capra, MD; Linda Thompson, PhD; and Arthur LeFrancois, JD. Registration only.

April 22:
Book signings by the Detrich family, from the Tulsa area, who wrote the book, Spirit of Lo, about their family's experience with cystic fibrosis. Events will be held at Borders
Books and Music, 3209 NW Expressway, Oklahoma City at 5 p.m., and at Barnes and Noble, 6100 N May Avenue, Oklahoma City, at 7 p.m.

April 25:
An audience of Oklahoman pediatricians and high school students will join together to view a Web cast featuring Nobel laureate James Watson and National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Director Francis Collins discussing the history and future of human genetics. Following the Web cast, a panel consisting of a diverse group of genetics experts will engage the audience in a discussion of genetics. This event will be held at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. The Web cast is available for viewing at the NHGRI Web site at www.genome.gov ; check the OSDH Web site for the NHGRI link. This event will begin at 11 a.m.

April 25:
Newborn screening lecture by Julie Hankins, BSN, RN, at the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) at the Francis Tuttle Vo-Tech, Rockwell Campus, Oklahoma City. This event will begin at 10:30 a.m.


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