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2011.11.30 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: cdreed@unomaha.edu

UNO Brings NID Child Health Researcher to Omaha

Omaha - The question of nature or nurture has long plagued scientists and philosophers alike; however, Professor Stephen Suomi, chief of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s (NICHD) Laboratory of Comparative Ethology, is helping to answer at least some of that question with the research he will be sharing at Thursday’s Midlands Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience Annual Lecture.

At the Dec. 1 event, which begins at 4 p.m. at the Boys Town National Research Hospital, Suomi will be addressing representatives of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), Creighton University, University of Nebraska Medical Center and Boys Town Hospital, among others. There, Suomi will discuss his recent research, which shows that a nurturing environment can overcome harmful genes.

Suomi, whose work at NICHD is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was invited to Omaha by UNO professor Jeff French, who works in UNO’s biology and psychology departments.

"Dr. Suomi’s work is critically important, particularly in the era of the Human Genome Project, because it reveals that genes are not necessarily destiny,” French said. “This finding has both practical and policy implications for how we look at early childhood development."

In recent years, Suomi’s research, which has largely focused on non-human primate development, has shown that rhesus monkeys, which have genetic similarities to humans, can overcome genetic defects and tendencies towards anti-social behaviors, like aggression, through positive environmental factors.

Suomi, who is also a research professor at the University of Virginia and University of Maryland, as well as an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania State University, has delivered over 300 colloquia, presentations and convention papers on his research in the U.S. and in 12 foreign countries. He earned his Ph.D. in psychology in 1971 and has worked at the NIH since 1983.

Suomi’s presentation is open to the public and will be held at the LIED Learning and Technology Center, Rooms 311 A and B. Boys Town Hospital is located at 425 N. 30th St. in Omaha.

For more information on Suomi’s visit, please contact Jeff French at jfrench@unomaha.edu or by phone at (402) 554.2558.

Stephen Suomi speaks about his research

Photo couresy of Jim Stroup and Virginia Tech Carilion

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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