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Current Lecture Season

Viral Noncoding RNAs: Approaching Answers

September 23, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Joan A. Steitz, Ph.D., Yale University

Noncoding (nc)RNAs play pivotal roles in the regulation of gene expression, but exhibit a diversity of functions whether encoded by cellular or viral genomes. One such ncRNA expressed in cells infected by the oncogenic gamma herpesvirus KSHV is the highly abundant polyadenylated nuclear (PAN) RNA, which is required for production and release of new virus particles.

DaNGeRous Indigestion and Immunity to Cancer

September 30, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Caetano Reis e Sousa, D.Phil., The Francis Crick Institute

The Reis e Sousa lab studies mechanisms involved in sensing infection, cancer, and tissue injury. Work from the lab has helped to define the cells and pathways involved in innate immune detection of RNA viruses, fungi and dead cells.

Human antibody responses to SARS-CoViD-2

October 7, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Michel C. Nussenzweig, M.D., Ph.D. , The Rockefeller University

Dr. Nussenzweig’s laboratory studies the molecular aspects of the immune system’s innate and adaptive responses using a combination of biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics. For work on adaptive immunity, he focuses on B lymphocytes and antibodies to HIV-1, while his studies of innate immunity focus on dendritic cells. His work is leading to new antibody-based therapies for infections by HIV and the novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, among other viruses.

Translating Thought into Blood Flow in the Brain: Capillaries as Sensors of Neural Activity

October 14, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Mark T. Nelson, Ph.D., University of Vermont

Healthy brain function depends on the finely tuned spatial and temporal delivery of blood-borne nutrients to active neurons via the vast, dense capillary network. Cerebral small vessel diseases (SVDs) are a central link between stroke and dementia—two co-morbidities that rank among the most pressing human health issues. Despite the emerging consensus that SVDs are initiated in the endothelium, the early molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown and no specific treatments are yet available. Using a genetic mouse model of the most common hereditary SVD (CADASIL, Cerebral Autosomal Dominant Arteriopathy with Subcortical Infarcts and Leukoencephalopathy), we show that impaired functional hyperemia is caused by a complete loss of capillary-to-arteriole electrical signaling due to diminished capillary endothelial Kir2.1 channel activity. 

Therapeutic Opportunities in Glycoscience

October 21, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Ph.D., Stanford University

Cell surface glycans constitute a rich biomolecular dataset that drives both normal and pathological processes. Their “readers” are glycan-binding receptors that can engage in cell-cell interactions and cell signaling. Our research focuses on mechanistic studies of glycan/receptor biology and applications of this knowledge to new therapeutic strategies. Our recent efforts center on pathogenic glycans in the tumor microenvironment and new therapeutic modalities based on the concept of targeted degradation.

Deep and Wide: The Voyage to Discover Local and Global Health Equity

October 28, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Lisa A. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H., Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Cooper’s research program examines the effectiveness of multilevel strategies for advancing health equity in the United States and Sub Saharan Africa. She has conducted observational studies to describe attitudinal barriers to equitable health status and health care among patients from diverse racial and ethnic groups, and to elucidate mechanisms, such as the quality of social relationships, for racial and socioeconomic disparities in health status and healthcare.

Gaucher Disease: How a Rare Disease Provides a Window into Common Neurodegenerative Disorders

November 4, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Ellen Sidransky, M.D., National Human Genome Research Institute

Dr. Ellen Sidransky is the Branch Chief of the Medical Genetics Branch and is a pediatrician and geneticist in the National Human Genome Research Institute at National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her research interests include both clinical and basic aspects of Gaucher disease and Parkinson disease, studies of genotype/phenotype correlation and genetic modifiers, insights from mouse models, and novel treatment strategies. She played a lead role in establishing the association between glucocerebrosidase and parkinsonism.

Rethinking General Anesthesia

November 18, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Emery N. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology

We have established a systems neuroscience (conceptual, experimental, data analysis and modeling) paradigm for studying the mechanisms of general anesthesia-induced loss of consciousness.

Shake, Rattle, and Roll: Capturing Snapshots of Ribonucleotide Reductase in Action

December 2, 2020 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Cathy Drennan, Ph.D. , Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Drennan strives to capture structural snapshots of metalloenzymes to understand how the combination of metal with protein allows for novel reactivity. She is known for going beyond the single image of one enzyme from one organism to elucidate structures of entire enzyme pathways and to capture multiple snapshots of enzymes as they proceed through their reaction cycles. She is a “molecular storyteller” with the goal of “bringing to life” the results of structural biology research.

The Contagion Next Time: Underlying Socioeconomic and Racial Divides and Our Risk from COVID and Future Pandemics

December 16, 2020 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Sandro Galea, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.PH., Boston University School of Public Health

Sandro Galea, a physician, epidemiologist, and author, is dean and Robert A. Knox Professor at Boston University School of Public Health. He previously held academic and leadership positions at Columbia University, the University of Michigan, and the New York Academy of Medicine. He has published extensively in the peer-reviewed literature, and is a regular contributor to a range of public media, about the social causes of health, mental health, and the consequences of trauma. He has been listed as one of the most widely cited scholars in the social sciences.


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