DeWitt Stetten Jr. Lecture
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) established the DeWitt Stetten Jr. Lectuer in 1982 on the occasion of the institute's 20th anniversary in honor of its third director, Dr. DeWitt "Hans" Stetten, Jr., M.D., Ph.D. Stetten was an esteemed biomedical research and administrator who had a varied biomedical career at and beyond the NIH. He first came to NIH in 1954 as associate director of intramural research at what was then called the National Institute of Arthritis and Metabolic Diseases. Having made his imprint there, he left the NIH to serve as dean of the Rutgers University Medical School from 1962 to 1970. Then he returned to the NIH to become NIGMS director, where he was instrumental in shaping the modern successes of this institute. Among Stetten's many accomplishments at NIGMS was the establishment of eight genetics centers across the United States that maintained a bank of cell lines representing genetic defects and sponsored basic and clinical programs for the identification of genetically transmitted diseases. He developed national guidelines for this genetic research, which was quite novel and exciting at the time. Stetten also was senior scientific adviser to the NIH director from 1979 to 1986. The NIH Stetten Museum was renamed in his honor in 1987.
Genomic epidemiology has enabled critical insights during the COVID-19 pandemic. At the forefront of these insights has been SARS-CoV-2's remarkable potential for adaptive evolution. Dr. Bedford will discuss the evolutionary dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 with a focus on the emergence of variant of concern and variant of interest viruses. He will characterize mutational patterns in these variant viruses and chart their spread across geographies.
We have established a systems neuroscience (conceptual, experimental, data analysis and modeling) paradigm for studying the mechanisms of general anesthesia-induced loss of consciousness.
Whether animals are looking for food or mates, or avoiding pathogens and predators, they rely on biosensors—molecules that allow animals to sense and respond to their environments. Creating new kinds of biosensors to receive, process, and transmit molecular information is the focus of Dr. Smolke’s research. Her innovative approaches for designing biomolecules have applications in diagnostics, drug development, green chemistry, and more. Her lab has created RNA molecules, or switches, that can detect the disease state of a cell.
Salamanders and starfish might be “simpler” than humans, but they far surpass us in one major way—the ability to regenerate tissues and regrow lost limbs. Dr. Sánchez Alvarado studies regeneration using the flatworm planaria Schmidtea mediterranea. Remarkably, when halved or quartered this organism can clone itself from the pieces. More than 100 years ago, that feat captured the attention of geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan, who studied planarians years before his famed work on fruit flies. As astonishing as the planarian regenerative capacities are, Dr.
Dr. Amaro’s scientific interests lie at the intersection of computer-aided drug discovery and biophysical simulation methods. She has a long-standing interest in incorporating structural and dynamical information derived from all-atom molecular dynamics simulations in drug discovery programs, and has worked in a variety of disease areas, including infectious diseases and cancer. Her lab’s work on p53 revealed a novel druggable pocket that clarified the mechanism of action for a compound in clinical trials.
Elements of health and disease: inorganic fluxes and metal receptors that control cell fate decisions
For the past three decades, Thomas V. O'Halloran has investigated how fluctuations in the amount of metal ions inside cells influence key cellular decisions. Using genetic, chemical, structural, and mechanistic approaches, he has uncovered new types of metal receptors and tied their function to a number of disease-related physiological processes. O'Halloran identified early examples of metal ion receptors called metalloregulatory proteins that regulate gene expression.
Primary cilia are microtubule-based organelles that are now known to be present on nearly all differentiated cell types in metazoans. Cilia house signaling molecules that transduce environmental cues and regulate cellular homeostasis and organismal development. Disruption of cilia structure or function is linked with a plethora of diseases termed ciliopathies, many of which are characterized by sensory defects.
Movement is a fundamental property of living organisms. The contraction of muscles, beating of cilia and flagella, segregation of genetic material during mitosis, and intracellular transport of membranes, proteins and mRNAs are driven by molecular motor proteins that move along cytoskeletal filaments. Dr. Vale’s laboratory, whose research is funded by NIH, has studied kinesin and dynein, the two types of motors that move along microtubule tracks.
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