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Executive Q & A

Molecular biologist David G. Skalnik will become associate dean for research and graduate education at the IUPUI School of Science in January. Since 1991, Skalnick has been a researcher at the Indiana University School of Medicine, leading a team of three in the study of epigenetics—factors that influence whether certain genes are turned on or turned off.

IBJ: You’ve made your research career in epigenetics. Give us a brief explanation of what that field is.

A: It’s the branch of science that refers not so much to the DNA sequence in our cells, but to the way in which our cells package that DNA or express that DNA in normal development. Most of the cells in our body have the same DNA sequence, but a neuron in the brain and a cell in the liver are doing very different things. In cancer, for example, it’s just as common that there are epigenetic defects [as genetic defects]. That’s been particularly interesting for the pharmaceutical industry because those are potentially reversible defects.

IBJ: Speaking of the pharmaceutical industry, it was hoping for a wave of breakthroughs after the sequencing of the human genome 10 years ago. Is a lack of understanding of epigenetics one reason the reality of DNA sequencing has not lived up to the promise?

A: It is true that there was a big hype up. We didn’t know for sure what was going to come out of it. We now know at the genetic level hundreds of diseases. But it’s been a harder problem to fix these problems once we understand those diseases. And the same can be said for epigenetics.

IBJ: As you begin to oversee graduate education and research at the School of Science, do you have a name-recognition issue to get over in attracting students to come to the school?

A: Clearly, the School of Science has increased its research footprint in recent years. Historically, the school has been focused on the teaching mission; 85 percent of its budget is derived from tuition. I think that the school is expanding, both in terms of faculty and laboratory, and there is a great opportunity to recruit in top-flight researchers.

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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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