Monday, December 08, 2008

Oral history interview: R. Ellen Magenis, MD

Tomorrow, Oral History Program interview number 106 will be conducted with Dr. R. Ellen Magenis, MD, professor of medical genetics and director of the Cytogenetic Laboratory and CDRC Chromosome Clinic at OHSU. Dr. Magenis will be interviewed by Dr. Susan Hayflick, MD, professor and interim Chair of the Department of Molecular & Medical Genetics and professor in pediatrics and neurology.

Dr. Magenis completed her undergraduate education at Indiana University, Bloomington (BA, Zoology, 1946) before entering the medical school there. After graduating in 1952, she completed a one-year internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals. In 1964, she relocated to Portland and took a second internship at the Portland Sanitarium. A residency in pediatrics at the University of Oregon Medical School followed, along with a fellowship in medical genetics (also at UOMS). In 1965, she joined the faculty of the Crippled Children's Division (now CDRC); more than forty years later, she is still accepting patients to her clinics.

Her many research interests include human gene mapping and numerical and structural aberrations of chromosomes; Prader-Willi/Angelman, Velocardiofacial, and Smith-Magenis syndromes; chromosome abnormalities in malignancy; origin of germ cell tumors in children and adults; melatonin levels in Sleep-disordered Smith-Magenis Syndrome; and problems in sex determination. The syndrome that bears her name is a chromosomal disorder characterized by a recognizable pattern of physical, behavioral, and developmental features. It is caused by a missing piece of genetic material from chromosome 17, referred to as deletion 17p11.2.

Among other honors and awards, Dr. Magenis was named the 1999 Professional of the Year by the Arc of Multnomah County for her commitment to the diagnosis, counseling, and treatment of people with genetic diseases and chromosome abnormalities.

In this era of targeted therapies and gene mapping, we are thrilled to be able to record Dr. Magenis' thoughts on where we have been and where we are going in medical genetics.

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