MU symposium focuses on health and medicine

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COLUMBIA - A branch of genetics called epigenetics focuses on how our genetic material is changed based on our own experiences, and even the experiences of our parents before we are born.

A symposium at the Bond Life Sciences Center on the MU campus will run from Friday until Sunday. Speakers are scheduled address research in epigenetics and how recent studies may affect health and medicine in the future.

Some of the topics of research have looked at linking epigenetics to conditions like autism or cancer. One researcher even studied mice and found food the father eats may have an affect on his offsprings' metabolism. Much of the research focused on common habits and how they change how our genes are expressed.

"Things we use in everyday life, so things like personal care products, pharmaceuticals, also things like pesticides that we might use inside the home," symposium co-chair Susan Nagel said. "Chemicals are a real source of concern."

But, Nagel and Life Sciences director Mary Shenk both said environmental factors and genes aren't everything.

"Genes are a part of it, but you've got all these other things that can affect us," Shenk said.

The symposium is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to register in advance here.