Christine E. Seidman and Richard P. Lifton will discuss the genetics of cardiovascular disease and the role of the kidney in hypertension at HHMI's annual lecture series for high school students and other viewers.

Heart disease causes more deaths than any other disease in the United States and hypertension is not far behind. On December 7 and 8, two noted research scientists will explore the genetic causes of these deadly diseases and discuss possible new treatments. High school students, teachers and others across the country will be able to view the lectures live via satellite and the Web, and question the scientists online.

This year's Holiday Lectures on Science from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) will take students to the frontiers of biology in four talks entitled, "Of Hearts and Hypertension: Blazing Genetic Trails." Christine E. Seidman and Richard P. Lifton will discuss the genetics of cardiovascular disease and the role of the kidney in hypertension before a live high school audience at HHMI headquarters in Maryland.

These lectures are accessible from HHMI's Holiday Lectures Web site,, on December 7 & 8, 1998. Web visitors can also participate in an interactive video chat with the scientists from 1:30PM to 2:30PM EST on both days.

The lecturers are HHMI investigators whose research has been widely published. Richard P. Lifton, MD, PhD, is director of the Program in Genetics in Medicine and professor of medicine, genetics and molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale University School of Medicine. Christine E. Seidman, MD, is director of the Cardiovascular Genetics Service at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School.

Teachers who register for the Holiday Lectures on Science can receive a free Teacher and Student Guide that will help them integrate lecture concepts with the high school curriculum.

Parts of the guide are also available on the Web site, including lecture summaries, key concepts and selected references to useful publications and Web sites.

The Web site,, also contains a variety of lively activities that complement the lectures:

  • "The Interactive Web" has demonstrations and a "virtual laboratory" that use JAVA, video, virtual reality and Shockwave to make science come alive. High school students helped design some of these interactive demonstrations, including The Circulatorium, KidneyScope, and Heart Size Simulator.
  • An "Ask a Scientist" feature enables students to pose questions via e-mail about human genetics and other biology topics. Volunteer experts associated with HHMI programs answer the questions.
  • The museum-quality Holiday Lectures exhibit provides an interactive experience for students. A documentary about the exhibit will be broadcast via satellite and the Web during breaks between the lectures. The exhibit explores the function of the heart and kidney, as well as heart disease and hypertension. Historical and modern artifacts and images trace advances in treating heart disease and hypertension. After the lectures are concluded, this on-site exhibit will continue to exist in a "virtual" format on the Web site.

Channel One Connection (formerly the Classroom Channel) will rebroadcast lectures one and two on January 13, 1999, and lectures three and four on January 20, 1999.

To create a link to the Web site or to obtain additional information, visit the Press Kit page at

Media Contact

Jim Keeley 301-215-8858