BJU to host conference on autism, genetics

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March 2, 2018
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March 2, 2018

BJU to host conference on autism, genetics

Bob Jones University in conjunction with the Greenwood Genetic Center will host its second human genetics symposium March 8 from 6:15 to 9:15 p.m.

Held in Levinson Hall, the event will focus on autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The event’s speakers, who come from a variety of backgrounds in science and medicine, will tackle the developmental disorder from every angle, including education and treatment.

Dr. Vincenzo Antignani, the event’s coordinator and professor in the Division of Natural Science, said the event will equip attendees with the ability to identify the basic traits of ASD as well as inform about the most advanced therapies and medications.

Antignani said the event is not just for science majors or medical professionals, but for anyone affected by ASD or interested in knowing more about the disorder, including families and educators.

“The core idea is to create a platform, where families, therapists and people who work in education with special needs kids can come and connect with researchers and doctors to hear the latest research and the most advance therapies,” Antignani said.

“It’s a connection point where all the components of society touched by this disease can get together and have a briefing about what’s going on.”

Over 130 people are registered to attend the event. Of that number, roughly 50 percent are directly affiliated with BJU as students, faculty or staff.

Antignani especially encourages students to attend the event. He said in addition to the valuable information about ASD, students can network with medical and science professionals.

“I think it is very important for students to come because this is a chance for them to learn about professions they may be interested in,” Antignani said.

“This is an opportunity for them to explore those careers by interacting with professionals in those fields.”

The idea for a science symposium at BJU originated from students in Antigani’s class who asked their professor to bring scientists from Greenwood Genetics Center to speak.

Antigani agreed to contact the center to arrange for a guest speaker if his students brought him the names of speakers they would be interested in bringing to campus.

When his students brought him the list, Antigani (who is originally from Naples, Italy) noticed one of the desired speakers was also Italian.

Speaking in Italian, the BJU professor and the genetics scientist immediately connected. The first genetics symposium followed consequently.

Antigani said the event marks the Division of Natural Science’s increased relevancy and engagement in the local Greenville community.

“I think we in the Division of Natural Science have the potential to connect with the local community at the level that before we haven’t explored,” Antignani said.

“To me this is a way to minister to the local community by leveraging on our scientific background.”