Towards High Definition Precision and Personalized Healthcare – Jan 9 to Feb 13

One Size Does Not Fit All:

Six Tuesdays, 12:30 – 2:00 pm, January 9th to February 13th, 2018

Crowell Public Library, 1890 Huntington Dr., San Marino, CA 91108

(626) 300-0775  crowellpubliclibrary.org


It wasn’t all that long ago when there were only a few treatment options for patients with seemingly similar diseases and disorders. The result was that some patients responded well to those options while others did not; the different outcomes were due to the patients’ different physiologies and immune systems, complications with other biological and external factors and even misdiagnoses.

But now, as the culmination of more than 100 years of persistent biomedical and behavioral scientific research, healthcare providers (physicians, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, etc.) have begun to evolve sophisticated syntheses of what makes an individual human tick – factors such as his/her genotype (an inventory of all that person’s genes including the microbiome), phenotype (the sum of observable characteristics from hair color to cardiac function) and the environment (epigenetics) in which the individual exists (stressful/relaxed; urban/rural; polluted/clean).

Understanding the interaction of all these factors in one person is being termed “precision medicine” – a sophisticated assessment of each person’s genome, epigenome, phenotype, growth and development history, environment, behaviors, and susceptibility to certain diseases and disorders, so that precise high definition protocols can be tailored to his/her individual personalized health.

In addition to discussion, this course will feature hands-on inquiry experiences to demonstrate how phenotype connects with genotype; the principles underlying the development and evolutionary process of how an organism grows; and how novel and innovative gene editing techniques (e.g. CRISPR/Cas9) can address major human diseases and disorders such as birth defects, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, pulmonary disorders, periodontal diseases, cancers, mental diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases and disorders.

The key goal for is to appreciate and understand regularities and irregularities in patterns of inheritance and diseases in all living organisms and how modern healthcare is trying – repeat, trying – to make living and growing older so much easier and better.

Six Weekly Topics/Concepts Considered

  1. Building vocabulary: structure and functions of DNA (bases or nucleotides, base pairing, methylation and gene regulations); genotypes are differences in DNA sequence that distinguish individuals from one another; epigenetics, the non-gene sequence regulation of gene functions using methylation of cytosine and/or guanosine; phenotypes are the visible or measurable properties/traits that distinguish individuals from one another; phenomics: genetic analysis relates genotypes to their phenotypic consequences and vice versa
  2. From DNA to biological diversity: the evolutionary process (Mendel and Darwin); DNA variants: mutations, polymorphisms, and alleles; patterns of Mendelian Inheritance and human diseases; Neanderthal genome reveals greater legacy in present-day humans;
  3. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and complex human diseases and disorders; identify and visualize RNA transcripts, proteins, and other cellular components at the single-cell level that revolutionize how we understand the human brain and brain functions
  4. The economics of DNA sequencing and gene-based risk assessment and diagnosis of disease (e.g. human genome sequence less than $1,000/person)
  5. Pharmacogenomics; Gene Editing using CRISPR/Cas9 technology
  6. President Obama and Precision Medicine Initiative of 2015; the role of the NIH, CDC, foundations and private industry in the realization of the President’s Initiative (2016-2020); What’s next?

About the Facilitator: Hal Slavkin

Currently, Professor and Dean Emeritus at the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, University of Southern California. In June 2014, he retired after 46 years on the full-time academic faculty. He served as Dean of the dental school (2000-2008). From 1995-2000, he served as Director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) within the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. One of the major accomplishments of his tenure at NIDCR was the completion of the first-ever Surgeon General’s Report to focus exclusively on craniofacial, oral and dental health; Oral Health in America completed in May 2000 and doubling the annual budget. His interests include health care policy, craniofacial genetics and developmental biology, biomaterials, tissue engineering and regeneration, human and microbial genomics, and high definition precision dentistry and medicine as reflected within 470 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 91 contributed chapters to various books in biomedical research. He authored Craniofacial Developmental Biology (1979), Birth of a Discipline: Craniofacial Biology (2012), and a novel “Atlanta” (2012). He is a Member of the National Academy of Medicine, Fellow in American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of a number of scientific and dental organizations. He is the recipient of 10 honorary degrees, including Georgetown University, University of Connecticut, University of Maryland, Mercy Detroit University, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, University of Paris, University of Montreal, McGill University, A.T. Stills University, and Peking University. He received the 2014 USC Faculty Innovation Award, University of Southern California, and the 2016 William J. Gies Award for Vision as a Dental Educator. He serves as an elected Board Member for the Los Angeles Trust for Children’s Health – focuses on issues of equity for comprehensive K-12 education and healthcare/wellness for students and their families. He is also one of the Co-Founders of the Santa Fe Group. He and his wife Lois live in Marina del Rey.