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Science AMA Series: I’m Haig Kazazian, a Johns Hopkins geneticist studying how “jumping genes” have helped to shape our understanding of genetic disease. AMA!
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Hi Reddit, my name is Haig Kazazian and I’m a geneticist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. For the past 27 years, I’ve been studying human genetics and I am passionately committed to understanding how “jumping genes,” also known as retrotransposons, affect how genetic diseases manifest in my patients. These pieces of DNA are capable of moving around the genome and can potentially disrupt functional genes and lead to diseases like hemophilia and muscular dystrophy. Interesting fact about myself, in 1999, my colleague Arupa Ganguly and I received a “cease and desist” letter from Myriad Genetics, for studying the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes because they held the patent. We became the first plaintiffs in the 2013 Supreme Court Case, which unanimously ruled that naturally occurring DNA sequences aren’t patent eligible. More on the ruling here [ http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/06/details-on-association-for-molecular-pathology-v-myriad-genetics-inc/]. I’ve recently published a review on the last fifty years of “jumping gene” research and you can read all about it here: [http://www.fasebj.org/content/31/9/3712.full]. I’ll be back at 1pm ET today to answer your questions.