The impact of sugars on human evolution is one of the lectures presented by Professor Ajit Varki from the University of California as part of Glycomics Week at Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus this week.

A distinguished professor of Medicine and Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego, Professor Varki has been chosen as the Peter Gallagher Memorial Glycomics Scholar for 2011 and is presenting this year’s Lecture Series.

The Peter Gallagher Memorial series was established in 2010 in memory of the Gold Coast and Australian Rugby League personality Peter Gallagher and aims to invite internationally renowned researchers within glycoscience to present a public lecture to the university and local community.

Peter Gallagher was a member of the Institute’s Fundraising Taskforce for a number of years and was very enthusiastic in his support of the Institute and its research.

When Peter passed away, his family set up the Peter Gallagher Memorial Fund to assist the Institute in its endeavours to combat debilitating diseases such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, brain disorders and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, rotavirus and avian influenza.

Professor Varki is also Co-Director of the Glycobiology Research and Training Centre and Co-Director of the UCSD/Salk Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny.

He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the Executive Editor of Essentials of Glycobiology.

Other honors include the Karl Meyer Award in Glycobiology and the International Glycoconjugate Award.

His interests focus on sialic acids in biology, evolution and disease – particularly multiple genetic changes during human evolution and their relevance to unique aspects of human biology and disease.

The public lecture “Adventures in Anthropogeny” – Exploring the Impact of Sugars on Human Evolution will take place today, Tuesday 4 October at 5.30pm in the Glycomics Lecture Theatre, G26 Room 4.09, Gold Coast campus.

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