Research VP Peter Rotwein Puts Genetics in the Spotlight at TEDx El Paso

Despite the kaleidoscope of human diversity across the world, people have much more in common than you would think—when it comes to genetics.

That was one topic that Peter Rotwein, M.D., vice president for research at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso touched on as a guest speaker at TEDx El Paso, held Saturday, Oct. 13, at the El Paso Museum of Art.

He was one of eight chosen to speak at the conference, which brought together regional experts to share their ideas and visions under the theme of “The Future You.”

“We are 99.9 percent identical,” Dr. Rotwein said during his presentation. “You’re probably thinking, ‘What is this guy talking about?’ Look around, people are taller, shorter, some have a lot of hair, some have none. What I really mean is that the DNA in our genome is 99.9 percent identical.”

Peter Rotwein, M.D., vice president for research at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso was a guest speaker at TEDx El Paso, Oct. 13 at the El Paso Museum of Art.

Peter Rotwein, M.D., vice president for research at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, was a guest speaker at the TEDx El Paso conference, Oct. 13 at the El Paso Museum of Art.

Dr. Rotwein’s presentation was titled “Through the Looking Glass: Reading Our Future from Our Genetic Past.”

He discussed how the availability of more complete genetic information will lead to some challenging decisions for many people—such as finding out if your genetic makeup might predispose you to specific health problems in the future.

Dr. Rotwein, who also serves as chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, explained how variation in the DNA within our genome gives people different characteristics and potentially makes some people more prone to certain diseases and others less susceptible.

“If there were a DNA test that could predict your disease risks for the future, would you take it?” Rotwein asked the audience to ponder.

Rotwein is a physician-scientist with clinical training in internal medicine and endocrinology and metabolism. His research focuses on the mechanisms of action of growth factors in human growth and development, and more broadly on the genetic basis of human disease.

Rotwein’s presentation, and the presentations of the other seven speakers, will be posted on www.tedxelpaso.com in the coming weeks.