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UF scientist tapped by Howard Hughes Medical Institute to pursue 'best ideas'
Date:3/26/2009

, and identified the molecular basis for the loss of legs during whale evolution. The group has also published widely on the origin of skeletal development.

Along the way, Cohn's lab noticed striking similarities between the processes that control limb development and those that regulate development of the genitalia. They decided to ask whether the same genes could be involved in development of these distinct appendages.

"We're beginning to uncover the genetic and cellular processes that take place in external genitalia development, like outgrowth and closure of the urethral tube," Cohn said. "The incidence of genitourinary malformations in humans came as a huge surprise to me. A staggeringly high frequency of one in 250 kids has a urethral tube defect, and that number has more than doubled in the past 30 years without an explanation."

Understanding how genes respond to the environment is important for identifying the basis of these malformations, Cohn said.

"Dr. Cohn can work with the tools of molecular biology to find out what's happening at that level and he looks to see if what he is predicting is actually happening in the animal the only place that has any real meaning," said Dr. Kenneth Berns, director of the UF Genetics Institute. "His work has been novel and fresh and I can see why it captured the interest of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute."


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Contact: John Pastor
jdpastor@ufl.edu
352-273-5815
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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