Science Café Cleveland to discuss learning about human biology from fruit flies

The February Science Café Cleveland event will be “Science on the fly: Learning about human biology from the fruit fly,” featuring Department of Genetics Professor Helen Salz. The talk will be held Feb. 13 at Market Garden Brewery, with drinks beginning at 6:30 p.m. and the discussion starting around 7 p.m.

Fruit flies, or Drosophila melanogaster, moved into the public eye with the awarding of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine to a research studying fruit flies’ role in revolutionizing our understanding of the immune system. This was not the first Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to a fruit fly researcher, and it is unlikely to be the last. Today, thousands of researchers worldwide use fruit flies to learn about genetics, metabolism, physiology and behavior.

Why fruit flies? Flies and humans share many of the same genes; therefore what we learn about fruit flies applies to humans. Moreover, researchers can do things to fruit flies that are unacceptable on humans, such as genetic manipulation to introduce disease. As a result, most of what we know about the molecular basis of human biology and disease comes from studies of model organisms such as the fly.

Science Café Cleveland is sponsored by the Case Western Reserve University chapter of Sigma Xi, WCPN ideastream and Market Garden Brewery.

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