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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.

Tracing the Evolution of Adaptive Immunity

February 4, 2015
Max D. Cooper, M.D., Emory University School of Medicine

A search for the origin of our adaptive immune system has revealed that the jawed vertebrates and jawless vertebrates (lampreys and hagfish) use different strategies for generating large repertoires of lymphocyte receptors for antigens.

Skin stem cells in homeostasis, wound-repair and cancer

January 15, 2014
Elaine Fuchs, Ph.D., The Rockefeller University

Typically, the genetic cause of a disease is identified by studying the DNA of affected individuals, finding the responsible gene, and trying to understand how a mutated version might have coded for a defective protein that led to the disease. Dr. Fuchs, however, has pioneered “reverse genetics”: She starts with the protein abnormality and works backwards to identify the human disease. She has applied this strategy to elucidate the genetic basis of a number of blistering skin disorders and tumors.

The structural basis of ebola viral pathogenesis

November 6, 2013
Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute

Dr. Saphire’s lab studies viruses with compact genomes that encode just four to seven genes each. Viruses with limited genomes offer a defined landscape of possible protein-protein interactions. Each protein is critical—many are obligated to perform multiple functions and some rearrange their structures to achieve those new functions. As a result, these few polypeptides accomplish a surprisingly complex set of biological functions including immune evasion, receptor recognition, cell entry, transcription, translation, assembly and exit. Dr.


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