Universiteit Leiden

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This Week's Discoveries | 3 March 2020

dinsdag 3 maart 2020
Niels Bohrweg 2
2333 CA Leiden
De Sitterzaal

First lecture

Resolving the fundamental building principles of the genome

Remus Dame (LIC)
Remus is an associate professor in biochemistry. He just received an ENW Groot programme grant to investigate the fundamental building principles of chromatin.

The research in his group is aimed at understanding how chromatin is organised in bacteria and archaea. Specifically, he is interested in how physico-chemical cues alter chromosome organization to establish altered transcription patterns permitting adaptation to environmental cues. He addresses this question using a myriad of biochemical and biophysical techniques at both the molecular and cellular scales. The importance of this question is in the fact that bacterial pathogens infect their hosts relying on the pathways investigated. Understanding the signaling pathway provides potential cues for intervention. Research on archaea, of fundamental interest in its own right, not in the least because of the challenging environments in which they thrive, also provides important clues to mechanistic aspects of processes operating in eukaryotes. A topic of current large interest in the group is the archaeal hypernucleosome, an endless nucleosome, that evolutionary preceded the nucleosomes involved in chromatin organization in eukaryotes. In his future work, funded by the ENW Groot grant, he extends his interests to the identification and characterization of novel DNA looping proteins involved in global chromatin organization.

Second lecture: Lorentz Center highlight

The Influence of Testosterone on Risk-Taking: Is it a Zombie Fact?

Rebecca M. Jordan-Young is an interdisciplinary feminist scientist and science studies scholar whose work explores the reciprocal relations between science and the social hierarchies of gender, sexuality, class, and race. She is the Tow Associate Professor for Distinguished Scholars and the Chair of the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College. Her forthcoming book, Testosterone: An Unauthorized Biography, coauthored with Katrina Karkazis, will soon be published by Harvard University Press. 

In the field of behavioral neuroendocrinology, there is broad (though not unanimous) consensus that steroid hormones, especially high testosterone combined with low cortisol, affect risk preferences. One of the most influential models has been the study of financial behavior, both in the real-world setting of financial trading and in laboratory-based games. This brief talk will examine inconsistencies at three levels that should give researchers pause before continuing with research in this vein: inconsistencies between common research hypotheses and the evolutionary model that theoretically undergirds this research; problems with modeling and interpretation in two of the most frequently cited studies in the field (Coates and Herbert 2008, Sapienza et al. 2009); and conceptual problems with the concept of “risk” that is mobilized in these studies. Finally, the talk will briefly consider why the move away from simple “single hormone” and linear influence models towards more nuanced models such as the reciprocal influence model and the “dual hormone hypothesis” is not necessarily improving the precision of research in this area.

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