Alumna, genetics expert, to speak on campus

An internationally recognized genetics expert, who graduated from William Woods University in 1979, will return to her alma mater as part of the Alumni Speaker Series. Marijo Kent-First will speak to students about her career at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, in Dulany Auditorium. The talk is free and open to the public.

Kent-First earned B.S. and B.A. degrees in psychology and pre-veterinary medicine from William Woods University. She went on to receive an M.S. degree in veterinary anatomy and cytogenetics and a Ph.D. degree in reproductive physiology and genetics, both from the University of Minnesota.

She has risen through the scientific ranks in genetic research in both human and animals. Her numerous research-based publications and lectures have taken her throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Kent-First has served as a reproductive geneticist at the Bourn Hall Infertility Clinic in Cambridge, England. She also worked on DNA fingerprinting, hybridization and cloning at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

She established research programs at the University of Alabama and at West Georgia University, where she was assistant professor. Since 1993 she has lived in Madison, Wis., where she is an adjunct professor in the department of obstetrics/gynecology at the University of Wisconsin and new technology leader and senior scientist at Promega Corporation, an international biochemical supplier.

Her efforts have been dedicated to building bridges between academia and industry through excellence in basic science with a focused approach to understanding gender differences at the molecular level.

Kent-First leads a well-known team of collaborators in reproductive genetics, clinical and basic sciences (human and veterinary). This has led to four patents, more than 30 publications, (including book chapters and journal articles) in the last five years and numerous plenary lectures.

She served on the HUGO Y-chromosome comparative gene mapping committee, as a guest consultant for the National Advisory Board on Ethics in Reproduction (NABER),
the ethical review board of Smith-Kline Beacham, the Human Fertilization and Embryo Authority (HFEA), the scientific advisory board for the graduate program in clinical embryology for the University of the Danube and the University of Vienna, and as a mentor for young women in basic sciences and medicine.

She has received several awards and honors, including the Award of Distinction from the WWU National Alumni Association and, most recently, the Senior Investigator Award for Outstanding Contributions to the fields of genetics and assisted reproduction by the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology.