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NIH Director’s Lecture

The Director’s Lectures feature leading researchers from around the globe. Nominated by scientists and interest groups throughout NIH, the speakers are specifically approved by the NIH Director. There are typically three NIH Director’s Lectures per year.

Neurobiology of the World’s Most Dangerous Animal

April 13, 2022 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Leslie Vosshall, Ph.D., The Rockefeller Institute

The Vosshall Laboratory is interested in the molecular neurobiology of mosquito host-seeking behavior. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal to complete egg development. In carrying out this innate behavior, mosquitoes spread dangerous infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, Zika, Chikungunya, and yellow fever. Humans attract mosquitoes via multiple sensory cues including emitted body odor, heat, and carbon dioxide in the breath. The mosquito perceives differences in these cues, both between and within species, to determine which animal or human to target for blood-feeding.

RNA Splicing, Chromatin Modification, and the Coordinated Control of Gene Expression

March 9, 2022 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Tracy Johnson, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Tracy Johnson’s research program is focused on understanding the mechanisms of gene regulation, particularly RNA processing and chromatin modification. She developed the University of California, Los Angeles/Howard Hughes Medical Institute Pathways to Success program, a comprehensive strategy to provide students with an authentic research experience early in their academic careers while creating a rigorous, but supportive learning community.

Neurobiology of Social Behavior Circuits

June 2, 2021 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Catherine Dulac, Ph.D., Harvard University

Social interactions are essential for animals to survive, reproduce, raise their young. Over the years, my lab has attempted to decipher the unique characteristics of social recognition: what are the unique cues that trigger distinct social behaviors, what is the nature and identity of social behavior circuits, how is the function of these circuits different in males and females and how are they modulated by the animal physiological status?

Towards a Deeper and More Human-centric Medicine

May 19, 2021 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Eric Topol, M.D., Scripps Research Institute

My research is on individualized medicine, using the genome and digital technologies to understand each person at the biologic, physiologic granular level to determine appropriate therapies and prevention. An example is the use of pharmacogenomics and our research on clopidogrel (Plavix). By determining the reasons for why such a large proportion of people do not respond to this medication, we can use alternative treatment strategies to prevent blood clots.

On the Design of Bionic Limbs: The Science of Tissue-Synthetic Interface

May 5, 2021 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Hugh Herr, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Professor Herr's research program seeks to advance technologies that promise to accelerate the merging of body and machine, including device architectures that resemble the body’s musculoskeletal design, actuator technologies that behave like muscle, and control methodologies that exploit principles of biological movement. His methods encompass a diverse set of scientific and technological disciplines, from the science of biomechanics and biological movement control to the design of biomedical devices for the treatment of human physical disability.

Immune Checkpoint Blockade in Cancer Therapy:  Historical Perspective, New Opportunities, and Prospects for Cures

March 11, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
James P. Allison, Ph.D., MD Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas

Deciphering cancer genomes and networks

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

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

“In this talk, I will describe how state-of-the-art research on brain–machine interfaces makes it possible for the brains of primates to interact directly and in a bi-directional way with mechanical, computational and virtual devices without any interference of the body’s muscles or sensory organs. I will review a series of recent experiments using real-time computational models to investigate how ensembles of neurons encode motor information.

Autoantigens and autoimmunity: a bedside to bench and back again story

June 26, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Sandra L. Wolin, M.D., Ph.D., National Cancer Institute

Noncoding RNAs play critical roles in the metabolism of all cells. The Wolin laboratory studies how noncoding RNAs function, how cells recognize and degrade defective noncoding RNAs, and how failure to degrade these RNAs affects cell function and contributes to human disease. Their studies revealed new mechanisms by which defective RNAs are targeted for degradation and new classes of noncoding RNAs. Most recently, their work has contributed to a novel theory for how the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus may be triggered in genetically susceptible individuals.

Cancer and aging: rival demons?

February 13, 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Judith Campisi, Ph.D. , Buck Institute for Research on Aging

Cancer and aging are intricately intertwined. Organisms with dividing cells are at substantial risk for developing cancer. Evolution "solved" the cancer problem by selecting for tumor-suppressive mechanisms, which protect these organisms from cancer—at least for the reproductively active portion of the life span. Beyond that portion of the life span, these mechanisms can drive pathologies associated with aging, including, ironically, cancer. For her lecture, Dr.


The page was last updated on Monday, February 11, 2019 - 2:31pm