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Christopher Cullis, Ph.D. - Frances Hobart Herrick Professor of Biology at Case Western Reserve University



Friday February 22, 2008
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Crawford Hall - Room 9
Inamori Center
Case Western Reserve University

You may never have heard of the Bambara bean, marama tuber, or cowpea seeds. Yet Case Western Reserve students in Professor Cullis’ biotechnology lab have been testing these wild, native, and hardy plants to see if they have the potential to become domesticated crops. They have done lab research to find DNA markers, while also connecting with universities from southern Africa through both those researchers visiting our campus and a series of videoconferences.

International collaborations to overcome food shortages have failed in a variety of ways. Sometimes foreign aid has offered food directly, and so made local agriculture unprofitable. Sometimes it has promoted cultivation of crops that are not suited to the local ecology.
Come join Professor Cullis, Frances Hobart Herrick Professor of Biology, to discuss our contribution to a different approach, a remarkable international collaboration in search of sustainable agriculture.

The Friday Lunch is a brown-bag event open to all.  Cookies and some beverages are provided. 

The remainder of this e-mail reports what we know about the schedule for the rest of the semester. We will be sending out announcements each week. If you would prefer not to receive the announcements, please inform Dr. Andrew Lucker, Associate Director of the Center for Policy Studies, by e-mail (

About Our Guest

Dr. Chris Cullis is interested in the mechanisms by which DNA within the cell can change rapidly, particularly in response to external stimuli. The model systems, all plant based, that are the basis for these investigations are the heritable mutations in flax in response to the external environment and the appearance somaclonal mutations after plants have been taken through a cycle of tissue culture and regeneration.

Flax has been shown to be especially prone to genomic destabilization by the external growing environment. Specific labile regions of the genome have been identified, using genomic subtraction methods, and their characteristics are being described to gain an insight into the mechanisms by which these variants are generated. One particular labile region involves the site-specific insertion of a novel sequence that is assembled in response to the environmental growth conditions, and confers an adaptive advantage under certain growth conditions.

The understanding of somaclonal variation has two purposes:

  • To determine if a labuile subset of the genome is also identifiable that is modified during tissue culture.
  • To develop markers to monitor the appearance of somaclonal variants to be used in the tissue culture industry for quality control of in vitro plants.

  • Friday Lunch Parking News 

    On February 22 no parking will be available in the Visitor Information Center Lot (located between Crawford Hall and Amasa Stone Chapel) because there is a full Case Western Reserve University Board of Trustees meeting.

    Part Time Election Positions Available

    The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is looking for some part time help for the March 4th Ohio primary. There are two positions available, ballot drop off assistant and ballot drop off captain. For more information click here. (pdf)

    Friday Lunch and Other Public Affairs Upcoming Topics and Speakers:

    February 29: Robin Dubin, Associate Professor of Economics at Case Western Reserve University, will discuss, "The Real Estate Meltdown."

    March 7: Peter J. Whitehouse MD PhD. Professor of Neurology and Cognitive Science. “The Myth of Alzheimers.”

    March 21: J. Adin "Jay" Mann, Professor of Chemical Engineering: "Peak Oil."

    April 4: Jerry Floersch PhD, LISW, Associate Professor in MSASS, "The Psychosocial and Sociocultural Dimensions of Prescribing Psychiatric Medication to Adolescents."

    April 18: Megan Whalen Turner fiction writer for young adults and author of, Instead Of Three Wishes, The Thief, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia; Anne Ursu is the author of the novels Spilling Clarence and The Disapparation of James, Joe White Luxenberg Family Professor of Public Policy and Chair, Department if Political Science, Case Western Reserve University, will discuss, "Moral Dilemmas in Politics and Fiction."

    The Friday Lunch discussions are held on the lower (ground) level of
    Crawford Hall.  Visitors with mobility issues may find it easiest to take advantage of special arrangements we have made.  On most Fridays, a few parking spaces in the V.I.P. lot in between Crawford Hall and Amasa Stone Chapel are held for participants in the lunch discussion. 

    Visitors then can avoid walking up the hill to the first floor of Crawford by entering the building on the ground level, through the garage area under the building.  The further door on the left in that garage will be left unlocked during the period before the Friday lunch.  On occasion, parking will be unavailable because of other university events.

    For more information about these and other Center for Policy Studies programs, please see

    February 19, 2008

    A weekly newsletter published by the Center for Policy Studies, Case Western Reserve University. If you would like to not receive this weekly e-mail or you would like to submit items for inclusion please send a notice to:

    Check out the university’s community outreach activities

    Upcoming Events

    Russia: Present and Future

    A Center for Policy Studies event with Thomas F. Remington Ph.D., Emory University; Andrew Barnes Ph.D., Kent State University, and Kelly M. McMann Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University. Monday, March 3, 4:30 - 6:00 pm, Ford Auditorium, corner of Adelbert and Euclid Avenue. For more information click here.

    Chuck Freilich, former Deputy National Security Adviser for the State of Israel, will be in Cleveland for a series of events on Thursday, February 21. They Include:

    A talk at Case Western Reserve University School of Law from 12:00 – 1:00 pm on “Israel’s National Security Measures and Their Effects.” This will be held in Room 159, and Kosher Subway sandwiches will be provided.

    A talk at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law of Cleveland State University, from 4:00 – 5:00 pm on “A Middle East Strategic Overview: An Israeli Perspective.” This will be held in Room 017 in the Cleveland-Marshall College library. Light refreshments will be provided.

    Chuck Freilich is a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center at Harvard's Kennedy School, where he is writing a book on Israeli national security decision making. He served as Deputy National Security Adviser for Foreign Affairs on the Israel National Security Council from 2000 – 2005. Before joining the Israel National Security Council, he was a Senior Analyst at the Israel Ministry of Defense, served as Policy Advisor to the Minister of Economic Planning and Communications, and was Executive Director of two non-profits. Some of his recent work can be found by clicking here.

    Stories of Jewish and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience

    A public lecture by
    Alice Rothchild, MD

    Wednesday, 27 February 2008
    4:30 pm, Clark Hall Room 309, Case Western Reserve University, Reception and book signing to follow

    In her book, Broken Promises, Broken Dreams, Alice Rothchild, MD, grapples with the reality of life in Israel, the complexity of Jewish Israeli attitudes, and the hardships of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. Rothchild cofounded and co-chairs Jewish Voice for Peace, Boston, and co-organized the JVP Health and Human Rights Project.

    Sponsored by the Hallinan Project for Peace and Social
    Justice, Case Western Reserve University

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    Submissions for the Friday Lunch Newsletter may be e-mailed to All submissions must be received at least a week prior to inclusion in the weekly e-mail and will be reviewed for timeliness and relevance to the Center for Policy Studies audience.


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