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March of Dimes Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Genetics 'Short Course'

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 31 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- What began as a small summer seminar and grew into a world-renowned, competitive educational course on the latest advances in genetics research celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with continuing support from the March of Dimes -- the longest-running grant in March of Dimes history.

The annual "Short Course in Medical and Experimental Mammalian Genetics" was founded in 1959 as a collaboration between The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, with funding from the March of Dimes. Famed geneticist Victor A. McKusick, MD, asked the March of Dimes to fund the two-week summer course intended to fill a gap in existing medical genetics education. The course has evolved and today is a key element of professional development programs that has educated nearly 4,800 faculty at leading medical institutions nationwide and around the world.

An annual Press Week then grew out of the Short Course as an opportunity to educate journalists and give them the chance to file national news stories as major new research findings were being discussed.

For two weeks each year for the past 50 years, physicians, scientists, young investigators, genetic counselors and journalists have mingled in the casual Bar Harbor, Maine, setting with leading geneticists to discuss the latest research theories and discoveries. The March of Dimes was the sole supporter of the Short Course and the accompanying Press Week for the first 25 years. Today, it continues to support the program along with several other agencies.

This year, the course began July 19, and the 50th anniversary will be marked by a special closing symposium on July 31.

"We're proud to support the Short Course in genetics and we congratulate it on 50 years of advancing the field of genetic research," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "The vision and foresight of Dr. McKusick in creating the short course endures today. Congratulations to Johns Hopkins and the Jackson Laboratory for keeping Dr. McKusick's vision alive."

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit or

SOURCE March of Dimes
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