CHIMERA WORKSHOP: Let's talk about genetic modification

CHIMERA WORKSHOP: Let's talk about genetic modification

Bruggeman Conference Center, CBIS/ Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies

November 8, 2019 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

CHIMERA WORKSHOP: Let’s talk about genetic modification is a presentation by Syracuse University artist Boryana Rossa and biologist Heidi Hehnly looking at scientific and media representations of the state of genetic research. Rossa and Hehnly will present back-to-back talks at CBIS, followed in the afternoon with a fun workshop held at The Sanctuary for Independent Media. Light lunch to follow CBIS talks.

Boryana Rossa (Department of Transmedia, VPA, Syracuse University) will present her recent art and science project “The Mirror of Faith,” currently shown at the Garage Museum, Moscow in the show “The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics.” This work is meant to provoke - in a playful and humorous manner - public dialogue about genetics. The project is related to the research of the molecular biologist Dean Hamer on genetic predisposition of human spirituality. Besides the questions of nature vs. nurture, raised by this research which proposes genetic predisposition of social behavior, our project exposes the possible social and political issues by reviewing its media representations.

Heidi Hehnly (Department of Biology, CAS, Syracuse University) will discuss select human conditions that can be caused by a single point mutation in a gene. One example of this is a point mutation in the Cystic Fibrosis Conductance Regulator (CFTR), which results in cystic fibrosis, an inherited life-threatening disorder where mucus accumulates in the lungs and digestive tract. A potential strategy to alleviate this devastating disorder is to utilize gene therapy to remove this mutation. Our lab utilizes a genetically modified vertebrate model system, zebrafish, where we can visualize CFTR live in a developing embryo using a transgenic animal where CFTR can be illuminated with blue light.  Here we can insert CFTR disease mutations or express normal CFTR to recapitulate or rescue a disease state. These model systems can be utilized to develop strategies to target pathways for small molecule drug treatment or identify methodologies to correct genetic mutations to restore a healthy state.



Boryana Rossa is an interdisciplinary artist and curator who works in the fields of electronic arts, film, video, performance and photography. Currently an Associate professor in Transmedia department at Syracuse University. Holds a doctorate degree from the Department of the Arts, Rensselaer, Troy, NY, 2012. In 2004 together with the Russian artist and film maker Oleg Mavromatti, Rossa establishes UTRAFUTURO–an international group of artists engaged with issues of technology, science and their social implications. Her works have been shown internationally at museums such as the Brooklyn Museum, NY; Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow; Museum of Modern Art MUMOK, Vienna, Austria etc.


Professor Heidi Hehnly is an Asssitant Professor in the department of Biology, at Syracuse University. She holds doctorate degrees from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester Mass (2010-14) the University of Iowa, Iowa City IA (2003-2009). Her research interests include understanding the interface between cytoskeletal dynamics and membrane transport and defining how they co-regulate one another to control essential cellular processes such as cell division, fate, and polarity. 

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