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Juniata Biologist to Talk on Economics, Ethics of Genomic Research

(Posted April 9, 2012)

Jill Keeney, professor of biology

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Jill Keeney, professor of biology at Juniata College, will give a lecture on "Affordable Personal Genome Sequences: What it Means and Why it Matters" at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 17, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The lecture is part of the Bookend Seminar Lecture series, which features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Keeney's lecture will cover the rapidly dropping price of sequencing a human genome and how this economic issue is affecting science and research. She will speak about emerging social and ethical issues arising from the availability of individual genomic sequence data.

She will illustrate these topics by discussing how the college addressed the issues when applying for a research grant to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Keeney will speak to the importance of teaching students about genomic data and the issues relating to how the data is used and the need to regulate access to the information.

Jill Keeney joined the Juniata faculty in 1994. She earned a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Penn State University in 1985, and went on to earn a doctorate in immunology in 1990 from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. In addition to introductory biology, she teaches courses in bioinformatics, advanced genetics and molecular biology techniques.

She was promoted to associate professor in 1999 and was promoted to full professor in 2004. She was named the David Goodman-Kenneth Rockwell Chair in Biology in 2007. In addition, she received the 1999 Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service (now known as the Gibbel Award) for junior faculty. In 2011, she received the Beachley Award for Distinguished Academic Service.

She has developed a student-centered research program focusing on the mechanism that allows the transposition of the Ty retroelements in baker's yeast, and she has received major research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

She has published numerous professional articles, almost always with Juniata students as co-authors. Keeney also has taken numerous students to present their research at professional conferences and meetings. Prior to coming to Juniata, Keeney was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Genetics and Molecular Biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 1991, she was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship from the American Cancer Society.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.