Morley Speaker Wynshaw-Boris Shares Experience in Genetics

On February 10th, Dr. Anthony Wynshaw-Boris ‘73, winner of the 2018 Morely Medal, spoke to the student body about his work as a geneticist and researcher. After earning his MD/ Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University, he traveled between various labs and institutions before returning to Case in 2013. Wynshaw-Boris’s research focuses primarily on comprehending the various neurological pathways affected by genetics in mice. Through his experiments with mice, he applies his findings to the human genome as the anatomy of mice and humans are quite similar. He is now the Chair of the Department of Genetics and Genome Study at Case and runs his own lab. In his lab, he utilizes his study of mice with mutated Disheveled genes to conduct research on autism in humans. The characteristics and physical manifestations of Disheveled mice and people with autism are very similar, so Dr. Wynshaw-Boris investigates both in his research. He has taken a particular interest in the pathways that cause the overgrowth in brain tissue commonly associated with autism.

Students responded very positively to Dr. Wynshaw-Boris’s Morely speech. With such a complex topic and varying levels of knowledge throughout the audience, he was able to capture the attention of many and explain his research in comprehensible terms. When asked what he thought about Dr. Wynshaw-Boris’s speech, Matthew Bloom ‘19 said, “I thought he had an interesting talk because he was able to mix in details from his research with broader anecdotes from his life. It was more relatable and not as difficult to understand as just an explanation of his studies would have been.” Many agreed with Bloom as numerous students attended an informal Q and A at the library with the speaker after school. In the Q and A, students learned more about Wynshaw-Boris’s research and were able to receive answers to their more specific questions. Along with other alums visiting that day, Wynshaw-Boris also answered various inquiries about life and college that students asked.

When asked what he thought about returning to WRA to speak, Wynshaw-Boris replied, “I had a great time coming back to WRA. It was fun to meet with the faculty and with students in chemistry and microbiology classes, as well as in the library when we met. These interactions confirmed what I knew from my time at WRA–WRA attracts intelligent and very engaging students.” An outstanding example of what types of students come from WRA, we were thrilled to have him back.

– Hanley Jefferis ’19

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