11 March 2008

A geneticist from a team that recently identified multiple genes that cause intellectual disability in children will give a seminar in Brisbane on Thursday.

Associate Professor Jozef Gecz from the Women's and Children's Hospital and University of Adelaide, will present the Dr Toshiya Yamada Memorial Lecture at 2pm on Thursday, March 13 at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) at UQ St Lucia.

Dr Gecz is the lead author of a recent international study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics.

His team identified various mutations involving two X-chromosome genes, HSD17B10 and HUWE1, in nine families including five from Australia, with intellectual disability.

Dr Gecz said the study paved the way for the development of a universal test to show a couple's chance of having a child with an intellectual disability due to malfunction of these genes.

His seminar is titled, “The genetic landscape of learning and memory: What do we learn from naturally occurring mutations?”

It will be the fourth annual Dr Toshiya Yamada Memorial Lecture, which was established in 2005 to commemorate an IMB researcher who passed away suddenly in 2001.

Dr Toshiya Yamada, a neuroscientist, discovered the genes responsible for regulating the development of the spinal cord and parts of the brain.

Dr Yamada and Dr Gecz have been leaders in the field of developmental neurobiology in Australia.

“This lecture is held annually during Brain Awareness Week to honour the memory and achievements of our friend and colleague, Toshi Yamada,” Professor Brandon Wainwright, IMB Director, said.

“It is also a chance for Brisbane scientists and interested members of the public to hear from a leading neuroscientist about his research. In previous years, we have had researchers from the US and Japan present the lecture, and we are all looking forward immensely to hearing Dr Gecz.”

The lecture is co-hosted by the IMB and the Queensland Brain Institute and is open to the public.

MEDIA: Dr Gecz (0429 170 699, jozef.gecz@adelaide.edu.au) or Bronwyn Adams at IMB Communications (3346 2134, 0418 575 247)

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