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Marshall W. Nirenberg Lecture

This lecture, established in 2011, recognizes Marshall Nirenberg for his work to decipher the genetic code, which resulted in his receiving the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Nirenberg’s research career at the NIH spanned more than 50 years, and his research also focused on neuroscience, neural development, and the homeobox genes. The Nirenberg lecture recognizes outstanding contributions to genetics and molecular biology.

Colliding Ribosomes Function as a Sentinel for Cellular Distress

February 24, 2021 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Rachel Green, Ph.D., John Hopkins School of Medicine

Rachel Green began her scientific career majoring in chemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. Her doctoral work was performed at Harvard in the laboratory of Jack Szostak where she studied RNA enzymes and developed methodologies for evolving RNAs in vitro. She came to the JHU School of Medicine in 1998 following post-doctoral work in Harry Noller’s lab at UC Santa Cruz where she began her work on ribosomes. Her laboratory is interested in deciphering the molecular mechanisms that are at the heart of protein synthesis and its regulation across biology.

Innovation by evolution: bringing new chemistry to life

February 25, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Frances Arnold, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology

Not satisfied with nature’s vast catalyst repertoire, we want to create new protein catalysts and expand the space of genetically encoded enzyme functions. I will describe how we can use the most powerful biological design process, evolution, to optimize existing enzymes and invent new ones, thereby circumventing our profound ignorance of how sequence encodes function. Using mechanistic understanding and mimicking nature’s evolutionary processes, we can generate whole new enzyme families that catalyze synthetically important reactions not known in biology.

Base editing: chemistry on a target nucleotide in the genome of living cells

September 5, 2018 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
David R. Liu, Ph.D., Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT

Point mutations represent the majority of known human genetic variants associated with disease but are difficult to correct cleanly and efficiently using standard genome-editing methods. For his lecture, Dr. Liu will describe the development, application, and evolution of base editing, a novel approach to genome editing that directly converts a target base pair to another base pair in living cells without requiring DNA backbone cleavage or donor DNA templates.

The future of genetic codes and BRAIN codes

February 8, 2017 - 3:00pm
George Church, Ph.D. , Harvard Medical School

Dr. Church's lecture will focus on transformative technologies moving at exponential rates for reading, writing and editing genomes, epigenomes, and other omes. Applications include cells resistant to all viruses via new genetic codes, production and analysis of organs for transplantation, and therapy testing.

The AML genome(s): Mutations in four dimensions

September 30, 2015 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Timothy J. Ley, M.D. , Washington University School of Medicine

For many years, Dr. Ley's laboratory has used mouse models of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) to establish key principles of AML pathogenesis. The lab established that the initiating event for Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia is the PML-RARA fusion gene created by the t(15;17) that is found in nearly all patients with this disease. The roles of cooperating mutations and the cellular milieu for APL pathogenesis have also been established.

Lost in Translation: Do males and females read their genomes differently?

May 20, 2015
David C. Page, M.D. , HHMI - Whitehead Institute

Dr. Page's laboratory seeks to understand fundamental differences between males and females in health and disease, both within and beyond the reproductive tract. Most recently, the Page lab discovered that XY and XX sex chromosomes account for subtle differences in the molecular biology of male and female cells and tissues throughout the body. These findings emerged from the lab’s comparative genomic and evolutionary studies of the sex chromosomes of humans, other mammals, and birds.

Optical deconstruction of fully-assembled biological systems

June 11, 2014
Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University

Dr. Deisseroth’s lecture will report on the development of optogenetics and CLARITY technologies. In the optogenetics domain, he will discuss strategies for targeting microbial opsins and light to meet the challenging constraints of the freely-behaving mammal, newly engineered microbial opsin genes spanning a range of optical, kinetic, and ion permeability properties, high-speed behavioral and neural activity-readout tools compatible with real-time optogenetic control, and the application of these tools to develop circuit-based insights into anxiety, depression, and motivated behaviors.

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