The second annual McNair Medical Institute Symposium will be held at Baylor College of Medicine featuring lectures by two BCM McNair Scholars and their mentor, Nobel Laureate Dr. Mario Capecchi.

The lecture series was created to focus on collaboration and the sharing of research among those who have been named McNair Medical Institute Scholars and are supported by the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation.

The lecture series will be free and open to the public beginning at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, in Cullen Auditorium.

Welcome remarks will be given by Dr. Paul Klotman, president and CEO of BCM, and Dr. Adam Kuspa, senior vice president for research at BCM, followed by a Scholar Award Presentation by Robert C. and Janice McNair. McNair is the founder and CEO of the Houston Texans, a BCM board trustee since 1994 as well as a benefactor of the Scholars’ program, along with his wife.

Insights into SIDS

The lectures will begin with the most recent McNair Scholar Dr. Russell Ray, assistant professor of neuroscience. His talk is titled, "New insights into SIDS and a 100-year-old Hypothesis on Breathing Through Genetic Neural Circuit Mapping."

Dr. Benjamin Arenkiel, assistant professor in molecular and human genetics at BCM, will follow with his talk, "Genetically Mapping Circuit Formation in the Mouse Brain." Arenkiel joined BCM as the first McNair Scholar in 2010.

Models of human disease

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Mario R. Capecchi, distinguished professor of human genetics and biology at the University of Utah’s Eccles Institute of Human Genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Capecchi is a co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his contributions to discovering principles for introducing specific gene modification by use of embryonic stem cells in scientific models used in the lab. His discovery is used in laboratories across the globe and has set a new standard for research worldwide.

His lecture is titled, "Gene Targeting into the 21st Century: Models of Human Disease from Cancer to Neuropsychiatric Disorders."

Both Arenkiel and Russell at one time studied under Capecchi at the University of Utah.

The McNair Scholars program at BCM identifies rising stars in four areas of biomedical research - breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, juvenile diabetes and neuroscience. The program is supported by the Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and managed by the McNair Medical Institute.