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Plenary Session 01: "Social and Psychological Influences on Gene Expression" presented by: Steven Cole, PhD

08:45 - 09:30, Regency Ballroom, Terrace Level

Steven Cole, PhD 

Professor of Medicine

Division of Hematology-Oncology

UCLA School of Medicine


Presentation Synopsis

Relationships between genes and social 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.  My talk summarizes 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 moderate socio-environmental influences on human gene expression.  This approach provides a concrete molecular perspective on how external social conditions interact with our genes to shape the functional characteristics of our bodies, and alter our future biological and behavioral responses based on our personal transcriptional histories.  



Steve Cole is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Hematology-Oncology at the UCLA School of Medicine. His research analyzes the pathways by which social and environmental factors influence the activity of human, viral, and tumor genomes. Dr. Cole pioneered the use of functional genomics approaches in social and behavioral research, and he collaborates with a diverse array of research groups through his roles as Director of the UCLA Social Genomics Core Laboratory and consultant to the Institute of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Aging, the Santa Fe Institute, and the MacArthur Foundation, among others. 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. He also serves as Vice President for Research & Development at the HopeLab Foundation. Dr. Cole’s laboratory specializes in developing new bioinformatics strategies for mapping the pathways through which social and environmental conditions influence gene expression dynamics involved in inflammation, infectious diseases such as HIV-1, and breast and ovarian cancers.