"Genetics of Obesity and Weight Loss," free public lecture, Feb. 16

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A free public lecture titled "Genetics of Obesity and Weight Loss" will take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 16, in 100 Thomas Building. The speaker will be Glenn S. Gerhard, a member of the Penn State Hershey Institute for Personalized Medicine and a professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, and the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the Penn State College of Medicine.

The event is the fifth of six lectures in the 2013 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free mini-course for the general public with the theme "Your Genes: How They Contribute to Who You Are." No registration is required. The lectures take place on six consecutive Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m., in 100 Thomas Building.

In his lecture, Gerhard will discuss the search for genes related to weight loss and obesity. He will explain that, although diet, exercise, and other aspects of modern living play important roles, there also is strong evidence indicating that genetics is a major factor behind the worldwide epidemic of obesity.

A major focus of Gerhard's research is identifying the genetic variants that underlie the susceptibility to common and clinically important diseases and conditions. In addition to obesity, Gerhard has studied aging and cancer by focusing on oxidative stress, which is the state in which free radicals -- atoms, molecules or ions with unpaired electrons -- overwhelm the body, causing damage to tissues by reacting with important molecules in cellular machinery. Other areas of Gerhard's research include iron metabolism and novel actions of the anti-malarial drug artemisinin.

Gerhard has published numerous scientific papers in journals such as Obesity, PLoS One, PNAS and Genomic Medicine. He received a medical degree from the Penn State College of Medicine in 1986. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia from 1986 to 1987, a pathology resident at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center from 1987 to 1990, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania's Department of Human Genetics from 1990 to 1992 and a research fellow at the University of Wisconsin's Department of Pathology from 1994 to 1995.

The Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science is a program of the Penn State Eberly College of Science that is designed for the enjoyment and education of residents of the Central Pennsylvania area and beyond. For more information or access assistance, contact the Eberly College of Science Office of Media Relations and Public Information by telephone at 814-863-8453 or by email at krd111@psu.edu. More information about the Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, including archived recordings of previous lectures and a list of other lectures in the 2013 series, is available at science.psu.edu/frontiers.

Last Updated February 13, 2013