32nd Annual Huggins Science Seminar


Acadia University invites the public to attend the 32nd Annual Huggins Science Seminar on Tuesday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m.to learn more about the way traumatic life experiences in childhood can influence the development of psychiatric disorders.

McGill professor Dr. Michael Meaney, a leading scientist in the field of biological psychiatry, and neurology will present Parental regulation of the structure and function of the offspring genome: Implications for familial transmission of traits. The presentation will take place in Room 10 of the Huggins Science building.

Scientists have known for a long time that traumatic life experiences, particularly those that occur during childhood, influence the development of psychiatric disorders. They also know that genes, such as those responsible for the stress response, play a major role in the manifestation of these disorders. What was not understand was the biological mechanisms through which life experiences change the expression of these genes.

Dr. Meaney discovered some of these mechanisms a few years ago in studies on rats. More recently with the help of their team, Dr. Meaney and Gustavo Turecki proved for the first time that these mechanisms are also at work in human beings. Their study showed that mistreatment experienced during childhood causes lasting changes in stress-response genes. The research has implications for domestic and public policy for maternal support and its role in human disease prevention and economic health.

The Huggins Science Seminar is supported by long-time benefactor Dr. Charles Huggins (’20), former Acadia Chancellor and recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1966 for Physiology and Medicine.

About Dr. Meaney

Dr. Meaney is Associate Director of the Research Centre at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, Director of the Program for the Study of Behaviour, Genes and Environment, and James McGill Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology McGill University. He was named a "Most Highly Cited Scientist" in the area of neuroscience by the Institute for Scientific Information in 2007 and was also elected to the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) and named a Knight of the National Order of Quebec. For research on stress he has received a Senior Scientist Career Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in 1997. He also, along with fellow researcher from the Douglas Institute Dr. Gustavo Turecki, was awarded the Scientist of the Year Award by Radio-Canada.

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