Brainless frogs to be discussed at inaugural lecture

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Is isn't every day that the cognitive abilities of humans and frogs are compared and similarities found. But that is what will happen on Thursday, April 3, when UAA biology Prof. Jocelyn Krebs delivers the first in a new lecture series, a free talk entitled "This Frog Has No Brain."

Krebs will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Room 150 of the UAA Fine Arts Building.

She'll explain how, if you deprive the African frog of a certain protein, the result you get is something like the unfortunate genetic human malady known as Williams Syndrome.

People with Williams Syndrome are remarkable in the saddest way -- hyper social, highly verbal, often musically talented, but severely cognitively impaired, with difficulty processing visual signals, and often with serious heart defects.

Krebs's work with frogs is bringing us closer to understanding the basic developmental processes that are disturbed in Williams Syndrome patients. She also is coming to understand the power of another protein in frogs that works to prevent a major cause of blindness in kids.

Intricacies of the brain and eye, developmental similarities of people and reptilians, and the wonders of the basic tools of modern molecular biology -- not to mention a tank containing live frogs -- all will be brought to the public in Prof. Krebs's  talk on April 3, the inaugural lecture in UAA's new Relevant Research Speaker Series.

Lectures in the Relevant Research Speaker Series are open to the public and free.

For more on Dr. Krebs's work, visit her lab's Web site.

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