Stellar international biology symposium scheduled for York


The 30th annual biology symposium, Model Organisms in Biology, on March 8 is being hailed as a one-day journey through inspiring scientific ideas, which will be shared with the audience by seven world-class researchers from Canada and US. The symposium takes place at the Moot Court at Osgoode Hall Law School , and is open to the public.

One of the topics under discussion will be the discovery of the power of a class of RNA molecules to control cell activity, which has been hailed as the science breakthrough of 2002. This new finding prompted biologists to revamp their view of the cell and its evolution – and York can take some of the credit for the discovery, thanks to scientists at the University.

University of Rochester Professor Martin Gorovsky (left) and collaborators including York graduate student Noah Fine (below, right) are among the scientists who contributed to the discovery. Gorovsky will be discussing this work and its implications at the symposium, organized by the Association of Graduate Students in Biological Sciences.

Working with the single-celled microorganism, Tetrahymena, Post Doctoral Fellow Kazufumi Mochizuki in The Gorovsky Research Lab in collaboration with Fine and Japanese scientist, Toshitaka Fujisawa, have found that small RNAs guide deletion or reshuffling of some DNA sequences as a cell divides.

“One can imagine these RNA molecules affecting the mobility of genetic elements and the benefits of being able to silence specific viral RNAs or cancer-causing genes,” said Fine, whose work in Prof. Ron Pearlman’s laboratory (associate dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies) in the department of biology at York is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Other internationally-renowned researchers presenting at the symposium include: York alumna Cecilia Moens, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre and University of Washington, Seattle; Michael Tyers and Joseph Culotti, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, University of Toronto; Christopher Somerville, Carnegie Institution of Washington and Stanford University; Daniel Eberl, University of Iowa; and cancer research award-winning scientist Mario Capecchi, University of Utah School of Medicine and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Salt Lake City.

Discussions will focus on the genomic revolution and the model organisms that have been central to our understanding of how cells divide, grow and develop.

For more information about the symposium visit the Media Relations Web site at

and for a detailed program check the York University Core Molecular Biology and DNA Sequencing/Proteomics Facility Web site at