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Current Lecture Season

Evolution of adaptive immunity in vertebrates

October 2, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Max D. Cooper, M.D., Emory University School of Medicine

The Cooper laboratory currently studies the evolution of adaptive immunity, primarily in jawless vertebrate models (lampreys and hagfish), and explores the use of lamprey monoclonal antibodies for diagnosis of infectious diseases and cancers in humans.

Brain Machine Interfaces: from basic science to neuroprostheses and neurological recovery

October 16, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Miguel A. Nicolelis, M.D., Ph.D., Duke University Medical Center

Dr. Nicolelis has dedicated his career to investigating how the brains of freely behaving animals encode sensory and motor information. As a result of his studies, Dr. Nicolelis was first to propose and demonstrate that animals and human subjects can utilize their electrical brain activity to directly control neuroprosthetic devices via brain-machine interfaces (BMI).

Scalable platforms for generating RNA sensors and controllers

October 23, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Christina D. Smolke, Ph.D., Stanford University

Biosensors are key components in engineered biological systems that interface with the large biochemical space in living cells and their environment. Aptamers, functional nucleic acid molecules that bind ligands, provide a powerful sensing element for many classes of molecules of interest. Although procedures such as SELEX have been quite successful in generating individual aptamers that bind proteins, generating small molecule aptamers has been more challenging due to the need to chemically modify the ligand to permit the recovery of binding sequences.

PROTAC-mediated protein degradation: a new therapeutic modality

November 6, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Craig M. Crews, Ph.D., Yale University

Proteolysis Targeting Chimera (PROTACs) are the first of a new class of clinical drug candidates that work via a novel therapeutic paradigm, i.e., targeted protein degradation. These two-headed compounds recruit a target protein to be eliminated to an E3 ubiquitin ligase, leading to the tagging of the target protein for degradation by the cell’s own quality control system, the ubiquitin/proteasome system. PROTACs offer the ability to deliver on the therapeutic promise of siRNA (i.e., ability to target the undruggable proteome) but by using small molecules with more traditional drug-like pro

Bad Deeds Go Unpunished: The vacuole guard hypothesis and pathogen intracellular growth

November 20, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Ralph R. Isberg, Ph.D., Tufts University School of Medicine

A patient-scientist’s road toward primary prevention in genetic prion disease

December 4, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Sonia Vallabh, J.D., Ph.D. & Eric Minikel, Ph.D., Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

In 2010, Sonia Vallabh watched her 52 year old mother die of a rapid, mysterious, undiagnosed neurodegenerative disease. One year later, Sonia learned that her mother's disease had been genetic prion disease, and that she herself had inherited the causal mutation, making it very likely she would suffer the same fate in 20 years' time. There was no prevention, treatment, or cure available. Despite having no prior training in biology, Sonia and her husband Eric Minikel set out to re-train themselves as scientists and devote their lives to searching for a treatment or cure for her disease.

We are what we eat: nutrition, genes, cognition & deep learning in age-related macular degeneration

December 11, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Emily Chew, M.D., National Eye Institute

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the United States and in the developed world. Two NIH-supported randomized clinical trials with 10 years of follow-up in nearly 10,000 participants demonstrated that nutritional supplements with antioxidant vitamins and minerals reduces the risk of progression to late AMD. Dietary data suggest the importance of the Mediterranean diet in reducing the risk of AMD, particularly fish consumption. The analyses of the genetic interaction with nutrition challenges the idea that you can eat away your genetic risk. Nutrition

You want to quantify that?! The science and metrics of partner engagement in research

December 18, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Melody Goodman, Ph.D., New York University

Dr. Melody Goodman’s efforts seek to understand the social risk factors that contribute to health disparities in urban areas, with the goal of developing culturally competent, region-specific, and evidence-based solutions through collaborative activities with community members, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and other community health stakeholders. The purpose of her work is the development of solutions for improving health in minority and medically underserved communities.

A two act play: The character of cells and the role of biomechanics

January 29, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Gilda A. Barabino, Ph.D., The City College of New York

Dr. Barabino’s research interests are primarily focused on cellular and tissue responses to fluid mechanical forces in the context of vascular disease and orthopedic tissue engineering. She concentrates on the characterization and quantification of mechanical and biochemical cues that influence tissue growth and disease progression.

Deciphering cancer genomes and networks

February 5, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Mona Singh, Ph.D., Lewis Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics


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