This story is from UCLA Today, a discontinued print and web publication.

Journalists hear from experts on genetics revolution

UCLA Today Staff

Nine science reporters broadened their understanding of the genetics revolution by visiting UCLA on May 12-15 as participants in a media fellowship program sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Open to working journalists at print, broadcast and online media, the CASE program enables reporters to interact with leading scholars at host universities.

“It’s not just the subject matter that appealed to me, it’s the prestige of UCLA,” said Gary Robbins, a reporter with the Orange County Register. “I felt there would be outstanding people among the presenters.” Added Scott LaFee of the San Diego Union-Tribune, “I start with top-tier universities such as UCLA as information sources. From this program, I’ve gotten at least half a dozen ideas to talk about with my editor.”

UCLA’s Center for Society, the Individual and Genetics, directed by Edward R.B. McCabe, organized lectures and laboratory tours, showcasing the university’s leading-edge activities in genetics, genomics and related fields. This was the second media fellowship program hosted by the Office of Media Relations in University Communi-cations in two years.

“This is just a sampling of the expertise we have at UCLA,” McCabe said. “We’ve got wonderful people doing scientific research and thinking about what the societal impacts of that research will be.”

Presentations by faculty and genetics counselors covered the scientific and ethical dimensions of such topics as genetic testing and cloning. Provost for Medical Sciences Gerald S. Levey, dean of the David Geffen School of Medicine, discussed the genetics revolution’s impact on the medical curriculum. Participants took a tour of the laboratories of StemSource, a company founded by a UCLA plastic surgeon to derive stem cells from liposuctioned fat.

In a keynote address on May 13, Chancellor Albert Carnesale told the reporters that “enhancing understanding of the genetics revolution is one of the most important functions we have as a university and that you have as journalists. How will we resolve the legal and ethical quandaries that certainly will arise? We can’t wait until we’re there to start thinking about it.”

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