RAC Chats

This series exposes individuals to a wide range of experiences through artistic, creative and scientific expression of the genomic sciences. Come chat with scientific experts, as well as, local and nationally renowned artists.

Registration is FREE! Follow the link and choose which day(s) you will attend: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rac-chats-tickets-47084773826

September 5 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Do these genes make me look fast? What can at home genetic tests unveil?

This RAC Chat session will provide an up to date glimpse of direct to consumer genetic testing including a discussion about fun facts consumers can learn about themselves as well as potential unexpected findings.

Featuring Matthew J. Ferber, Ph.D. and Teresa M. Kruisselbrink, M.S., LCGC


September 19 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Genome Artists’ Talks | RSVP HERE

The last RAC Chat will feature a panel discussion with the three artists commissioned to create artwork that relates to the genome – Eric Anderson, Zoe Cinel and Shah Noor Shafqat – all Minnesota based artists.

Created especially for the Human Genome Experience at the Rochester Art Center, First Person Plural by Eric Anderson creates video portraits of visitors using facial recognition technology that matches visitors’ features with ten thousand faces from around the world. The portrait created constantly shifts and changes as the data program works to recognize the participant. Then the artwork adds the participant’s features into the database to help it create portraits of future visitors. This data-driven portrait creation reflects the same data programming used to diagnose patients, as well as genomic data matching. First Person Plural invites viewers to consider how genomic data collection affects individual sense of identity and the individual in the context of individualized healthcare. Anderson is a graduate of Harvard and Iowa Writer’s Workshop, who now lives and works in Rochester.

G-enga is an interactive sculpture by Zoe Cinel inspired by the game Jenga® and by the Rosetta Stone that uses interactivity and play to help visitors process feelings and facts about the genome. Just as the Rosetta Stone was the key to decipher an unknown language, genome research has done the same for deciphering the DNA code. Visitors are invited to arrange any number of the 550 large wooden pegs that either contain phrases, questions, concerns, and facts about the genome or are left blank for the visitor to contribute their thoughts and responses to what they learned about the genome. Cinel is an Italian artist with her Masters in Fine Art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Shah Noor Shafqat’s installation, Intimate Gravity, incorporates abstract forms with paintings of her baby in utero, born just weeks before this exhibition, as the artwork explores the range of emotions a mother feels knowing she will most likely pass on a genetic condition to her child. When Shafqat’s first child was born with severe genetic eczema, Shafqat turned to her art practice to process the challenges this disease caused her family. The colors and shapes of each abstract disc mimics the petri dishes of researchers. The artist uses paint and embroidery on silk to recreate the sensation of human skin, and even encourages viewers to very carefully and gently to touch the surface of the discs as if it were skin. Shafqat received an MFA from the University of Arizona and a BFA from University of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan.

Featuring Eric Anderson, Zoe Cinel, & Shah Noor Shafqat

Join the Facebook Event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1884685931825714/



June 27 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Genome Unlocked: Welcome to Life in the Post-Genomic Era

This initial RAC Chat session will provide an overview of historical milestones in genomics research, consider contemporary genomics research initiatives, and invite discussion about life in the current post-genomic era.

Featuring Kelsey Metzger, D.A.

Facebook Event Page

July 11 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Genes, hormones and you…individualizing care for women

Join leaders from Mayo Clinic’s women’s health programs to discuss those health issues that are important to you and how they are impacted by the latest genomics research. Learn how “women’s health” is defined, the new advances to improve care throughout a woman’s life, and how you can advocate to receive individualized care.

Featuring Stephanie S. Faubion, M.D. and Virginia M. Miller, Ph.D.

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July 18 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Microbiome: How life’s code really works

The human microbiome is comprised of approximately 100 trillion microbial cells on and in the human body. They help us perform important functions essential for nutrition, immune response, and disease prevention. The intricate ways in which microbes and humans connect are a direct reflection of the central rules of life itself.

Featuring Nicholas Chia, Ph.D.

Facebook Event Page

July 25 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Harnessing the power of the immune system to fight cancer

This presentation will tell a bit of the story of the origins of cancer immunotherapy (1880’s), our most impressive failures of the 1980’s and 1990’s, our recent success stories, and the view of the future, as seen by us here at Mayo Clinic.

Featuring Svetomir N. Markovic, M.D., Ph.D.

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August 1 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Positive Exposure: Seeing Beyond Diagnosis

This lecture will facilitate experiential opportunities for audiences to see individuals and their families living with genetic, physical, behavioral and intellectual differences as people, not just as subjects. Images and stories will be presented in contrast to assumptions about a person living with a particular genetic condition. The lecture focuses on the hope and real lives of individuals and their families with, or at risk for a genetic disorder, and the importance of seeing and understanding the human side of genetics in medical education and healthcare today. Featuring Rick Giudotti, photographer & director Positive Exposure

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August 8 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Individualized Medicine in the Prenatal Setting

New genetic testing technologies are helping physicians better evaluate’ and understand patients’ reproductive and pregnancy risks.
Expanded carrier screening is a test which evaluates prospective couples for their risk of having a child affected with an autosomal recessive disorder. In order for a child to have a recessive disorder, both parents must be carriers of the disorder. Carriers are asymptomatic, and are often not aware of their carrier status. In the past, couples were screened for a very limited number of disorders based on their family history or ethnicity. Recent improvements in genetic testing technologies now allow for comprehensive screening for over 100 disorders with a single test. Approximately 5% of couples who undergo expanded carrier screening are found to be carriers for the same disorder, and at risk for having an affected child. This information can be used for pregnancy planning and care of an infant affected with a recessive genetic disorder.

A second genetic testing technology used prior to pregnancy is referred to as preimplantation genetic testing or PGT. This technology allows patients who are undergoing in vitro fertilization to test embryos for genetic disorders prior to transfer back to the mother’s uterus. While this may sound like science fiction, it is used relatively routinely in reproductive endocrinology clinics across the world. This technology can help to prevent transmission of a genetic disorder to the next generation.

Another new technology used during pregnancy is referred to as cell-free DNA or non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPS). This test utilizes placental DNA found in the mother’s blood to screen the pregnancy for risk of common chromosome problems such as Down syndrome. Cell free DNA screening, which is available at 10 weeks gestational age, can also determine the infant’s sex. The cell free DNA test has a higher detection rate and fewer false positives than traditional screening tests. Information from this test can be used for pregnancy planning.

Sometimes an ultrasound during pregnancy reveals problems. In cases where a more definitive diagnosis cannot be made with traditional genetic testing, whole exome sequencing, another new and exciting genetic testing technology, may be the best next step. Whole exome sequencing evaluates the fetus’s condition and provides a diagnosis in 30 percent of challenging cases.

This talk will introduce these technologies, and explain how the tests can be used for safe family planning and for the care of a baby who is found to have a genetic disorder during pregnancy.

Featuring Myra J. Wick, M.D., Ph.D.


August 15 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Here Come the Designer Babies: What is the ethical future of genetics and reproduction?

The use of genome editing in human embryos has prompted considerable concern over the ethical, safety, and legal ramifications of germline modifications in humans. This interaction session will explore moral, ethical, and justice concerns about the application of genetic technologies to human reproduction and the future of this rapidly moving area of medicine.

Featuring Megan A. Allyse, Ph.D. 


August 29 | 6:30 – 8:00 PM

Rare Diseases and the stories our patients teach us

People with rare genetic diseases often spend years on a diagnostic odyssey looking for an answer to their symptoms. Others may reach a diagnosis quickly but effective treatment will still be a challenge. Hear some stories from the perspective of a clinical geneticist working with these patients.

Featuring Brendan C. Lanpher, M.D. and Patricia Weltin