"Genome Instability -- The Crucible of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Children?" is a free public lecture on Feb. 23

A free public lecture titled "Genome Instability -- The Crucible of Neurodevelopmental Disorders in Children?" will take place at 11 a.m. on Feb. 23, in 100 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The speaker will be Scott B. Selleck, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and head of the Penn State Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

The event is the last of six lectures in the 2013 Penn State Lectures on the Frontiers of Science, a free minicourse 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.

Autism spectrum disorder is on the rise in the U.S. population, currently at an incidence of greater than one in 100 children. In his lecture, Selleck will discuss the possible origins of this increase and what genetics and genomics might be able to reveal about the cause and course of this epidemic.

Selleck's research program includes investigations of the molecular mechanisms of a number of neurological and behavioral disorders in children. He and his colleagues have identified a novel genomic disorder that affects both behavioral and motor development, including susceptibility to autism spectrum disorder. Selleck also studies tuberous sclerosis (TSC) -- a human tumor-susceptibility syndrome with symptoms that can include epilepsy and autism.

Selleck's research program also includes an effort to identify fundamental mechanisms of nervous-system development in a powerful model system, the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster. This work includes searching for novel genes that affect synapse assembly, axon guidance, and patterns of cell division in the developing brain. Recent studies include analysis of fly homologs of human genes implicated in autism and their role in normal behavior and physiology.

Selleck has won numerous honors and awards, including the Basil O'Connor Young Investigator Award from the March of Dimes in 1995 and an Alfred P. Sloane Foundation Research Fellowship for Young Investigators in 1994. He was named to the Martin Lenz Harrison Land Grant Chair in Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota in 2002. Selleck is the author of dozens of papers in peer-reviewed, scientific journals and of six book chapters. He has presented talks at numerous conferences worldwide.

Prior to becoming head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State in fall 2009, Selleck was the director of the University of Minnesota Autism Initiative from 2007 to 2009, and he was a professor and director of the Developmental Biology Center at the University of Minnesota from 2002 to 2009. He was the director of the Program in Molecular Genetics at the University of Arizona from 2000 to 2002, and he was the director of the Master's Program in Applied Biosciences at the University of Arizona from 2000 to 2001. From 1999 to 2002, Selleck was an associate professor, and from 1993 to 1999 he was an assistant professor, both at the University of Arizona. He received medical and doctoral degrees from the Washington University School of Medicine in 1989 and a bachelor's degree in zoology from the University of Washington in 1979.

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. 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 online at science.psu.edu/frontiers.

Last Updated February 21, 2013