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Stowers Investigator Jennifer Gerton discusses genetics research and cancer on KU Cancer Center’s #BenchtoBedside

Investigator Jennifer Gerton, PhD, recently appeared on KU Cancer Center’s #BenchToBedside to explain how scientists and cancer survivors are working together to decipher DNA

11 May 2022

Jennifer Gerton, PhD, sits with #BenchToBediside host Dr. Roy Jensen from the University of Kansas Medical Center. The weekly facebook live show follows the latest news and developments related to cancer care, clinical trials and research.

Investigator Jennifer Gerton, PhD, from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research recently appeared on KU Cancer Center’s #BenchToBedside to explain how scientists and cancer survivors are working together to decipher DNA and build the foundation for future cancer therapies.

During the program, Gerton explained that she participates in a research advocacy initiative at the cancer center called PIVOT, Patient and Investigator Voices Organizing Together, to help patients understand how genetics play a role in their disease.

Through PIVOT, Gerton was teamed up with a breast cancer patient. The goal is to give the patient a better understanding of genetics and give the scientist a concrete example of how their foundational research can impact human health.

“That kind of information really guides the healthcare decisions that get made. If someone has a mutation, the doctor working with that patient might decide on a specific medicine that they think may be more impactful for that mutation,” Gerton said.

Gerton also explained that by enhancing our knowledge of genetics, it could one day help us develop new cancer treatments.

“It will also impact things long-term. So, how often does that person need to be screened for other cancers? And how will that impact the family of that person? So, we need to think about things like, if someone carries a mutation, have they passed that on to their children? And how is that going to impact their healthcare? So, I think it can make a big difference if we know what the genetic cause is of a cancer.”

Gerton noted that the PIVOT initiative was extremely beneficial and impactful to put a human face on some of the research she’s doing.

On the program, Gerton was also asked what she’s most excited about when it comes to the future of genetics research. She said her recent contribution in helping to complete the assembly of the human genome sequence has her looking forward to new opportunities for further discovery in the future.

“I’m really excited about this new 8% of the genome that we haven’t had access to before. I think the next 10 years is really going to see us laying this basic science foundation for how these parts of the chromosomes work…and the basic biology of the genome. And then hopefully 20 years from now we can take that information and use it to make healthcare decisions,” she explained.

Read more about Jennifer Gerton’s work to complete the human genome sequence here.

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