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Overview: Social regulation of gene expression

Steve W. Cole, PhD, Pro­fes­sor, Hematology-Oncology; Member, JCCC Sig­nal Trans­duc­tion and Ther­a­peu­tics Pro­gram Area, Department of Med­i­cine, Divi­sion of Hematology/Oncology, University of Cal­i­for­nia, Los Ange­les   Web­site  | Pub­li­ca­tions  |  Abstract & Bio

Abstract: Rela­tion­ships between genes and human behav­ior have his­tor­i­cally been viewed as a one-way street, with genes in con­trol. Recent analy­ses have chal­lenged this view by dis­cov­er­ing broad alter­ations in the expres­sion of human genes as a func­tion of dif­fer­ing socio-environmental con­di­tions. This overview will sum­ma­rize the devel­op­ing field of social genomics, and its efforts to iden­tify the types of genes sub­ject to social reg­u­la­tion, the bio­log­i­cal sig­nal­ing path­ways medi­at­ing those effects, and the genetic poly­mor­phisms that mod­u­late their indi­vid­ual influ­ence. This approach pro­vides a con­crete mol­e­c­u­lar per­spec­tive on how exter­nal cul­tural and social processes can inter­act with our genes to shape indi­vid­ual tra­jec­to­ries of health, devel­op­ment, and behav­ior. It also pro­vides a provoca­tive set of build­ing blocks for under­stand­ing the co-evolution of human genes and culture.

Bio: Steve Cole is a Pro­fes­sor of Med­i­cine in the Divi­sion of Hematology-Oncology at the UCLA School of Med­i­cine.  His research ana­lyzes the mol­e­c­u­lar path­ways by which the social envi­ron­ment influ­ences the activ­ity of human, viral, and tumor genomes.  His stud­ies use com­pu­ta­tional mod­el­ing to inte­grate data from epi­demi­o­logic stud­ies, nat­ural his­tory analy­ses, lab­o­ra­tory ani­mal mod­els, and mol­e­c­u­lar and bio­chem­i­cal stud­ies to iden­tify the phys­i­o­logic sig­nal­ing path­ways that allow social envi­ron­ments to influ­ence health-related mol­e­c­u­lar processes such as inflam­ma­tion, viral repli­ca­tion (HIV-1, HHV-8), and tumor metas­ta­sis.  Dr. Cole has pio­neered the use of func­tional genomics approaches in social and behav­ioral research, and he pro­vides strate­gic con­sult­ing in this area to the Insti­tute of Med­i­cine, the National Can­cer Insti­tute, the National Insti­tute of Aging, the Santa Fe Insti­tute, and the MacArthur Foun­da­tion, among oth­ers.  He also directs the UCLA Social Genomics Core Lab­o­ra­tory.  Dr. Cole is a Fel­low of the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Sci­ence and a mem­ber of the Jon­s­son Com­pre­hen­sive Can­cer Cen­ter, the Nor­man Cousins Cen­ter, and the UCLA Mol­e­c­u­lar Biol­ogy Institute.