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Discussions academic at brewpub gatherings

It could be a little different than your average bar talk.

Or at least more verifiable.

Next week, the University of Idaho is opening a series of discussions on science and scientific issues at the Coeur d’Alene Brewing Co., a brewpub and restaurant in downtown Coeur d’Alene.

The first discussion on Jan. 9 will cover animal cloning, a subject that UI – home of the world’s first cloned mules – knows a thing or two about. Other programs will follow through May. UI says it’s hosting the “Science on Tap” programs as a way to acquaint people with the important research being done at UI and Washington State University and to provide a casual forum for the discussion of scientific issues.

The school encourages families and students to attend, and says a background in science isn’t needed.

The series begins with a presentation by UI professor Dirk Vanderwall, a member of the UI team that produced the world’s first cloned mule in 2003.

“I always look forward to opportunities to discuss animal cloning with the general public,” said Vanderwall in a news release. “I plan to give a short overview of what animal cloning is – and isn’t – and address questions about animal cloning from the audience. I especially encourage people who aren’t quite sure what cloning is to attend. This will be a great opportunity for them to find out.”

Vanderwall is an associate professor at the Northwest Equine Reproduction Laboratory in the Department of Animal and Veterinary Science at UI, and has taught veterinary science there and at Washington State University.

After years of effort, he and his colleagues produced the first cloned mule, named Idaho Gem, in May 2003. Idaho Gem is the sibling of a champion racing mule owned by Post Falls businessman Don Jacklin.

Scientists say the cloning technology, with its breakthrough understanding of cell biology, could help advance knowledge of the way cancer develops in humans.

Idaho Gem and a later clone also gained attention for racing against natural mules over the spring and summer of 2006.


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