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GEN’s editor in chief, John Sterling, interviews life science academic and biotech industry leaders on important research, technology, and trends. These podcasts will keep you informed with all the important details you need.

Scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center have discovered that a cellular defense pathway, long recognized in humans and other animals, is also active in fruit flies, potentially opening the door to faster, less expensive ways to find compounds that spur natural anti-oxidant activity in people.

During this week's GEN podcast, Dr. Dirk Bohmann talks about his team's research that led to the Drosophila finding and about the role the pathway plays in cellular defense. He describes the mechanism by which this pathway works to activate antioxidant molecules.

Scientists have known that the cellular defense pathway exists in people, rodents, and zebrafish. Dr. Bohmann looks at how the pathway differs in the fruit fly and tells why its discovery in this organism is important, including the impact it might have in speeding up the development of new drugs aimed at preventing cancer. While the main application of this study is in boosting the body's ability to resist cancer, Dr. Bohmann discusses how the research could also make a difference for patients who have cancer that is resistant to current drugs.

Listen to the podcast then return to the blog and give your thoughts on the following question:

The research discussed in the podcast focused on the finding that one form of a gene called CNC, which is widely known to be involved in determining the development of a fruit fly's head, serves like NRF2. The NRF2 gene turns on cellular defenses in humans and other mammals. How significant is the discovery regarding the CNC gene in fruit flies and why?

Or, if you prefer, post your own topic on the biotech industry subject of your choice. Please share your opinions and observations.

Dr. Dirk Bohmann was born in Germany where he received training as a biologist from the Universities of Tübingen and Heidelberg. He earned his PhD in 1986 for work on gene regulation in SV40 with Prof. Walter Keller. Between 1986 and 1989 Dr. Bohmann worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Prof. Robert Tjian at UC Berkeley, conducting studies on the transcription factor and oncogene product Jun. From Berkeley he moved on to the EMBL in Heidelberg to start an independent research group in 1989 studying gene regulation and signal transduction. He was appointed Senior Scientist at EMBL and was awarded the Habilitation of the Biological Faculty of the University of Heidelberg. In 2001 Dr. Bohmann accepted an appointment as Professor of Genetics at the University of Rochester. His recent research revolves around signal transduction in aging and cancer models, using genetic approaches in Drosophila. Dr. Bohmann is the current Director of the graduate program in Genetics, Genomics and Development at the University of Rochester. He serves or served on the editorial boards of several Journals (Gene and Development, Developmental Dynamics, Cell Growth and Differentiation), and is a member of the scientific advisory board for the Heidelberg Innovation venture capital firm.


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