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June 25, 2003
Use of Yeast Cells in Understanding Neurodegenerative Diseases Topic of June 27th Friday Evening Lecture at the MBL

WOODS HOLE, MA - Susan L. Lindquist, Director of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and a Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will present the second lecture in the Marine Biological Laboratory's (MBL's) 2003 Friday Evening Lecture Series this Friday, June 27. The lecture, titled, "From Mad Cows to "Psi-chotic" Yeast: Strange Diseases and Strange Genetics" will be held at 8:00 PM in the MBL's Lillie Auditorium, located on MBL Street in Woods Hole. The presentation is free and open to the public. Dr. William T. Speck, Director and CEO of the MBL will introduce Dr. Lindquist.

What do "mad cows," people with neurodegenerative diseases, and yeast cells growing happily on a deadly antibiotic have in common? They are all experiencing the consequences of misfolded proteins. Each organism has thousands of different proteins and they define its very nature. Proteins must fold into just the right shape to do their jobs. But like a piece of origami paper, they can take the right path and fold into a swan or take the wrong path and fold into a rapacious hawk. In humans the consequences can be deadly, leading to Alzheimer’s disease and the human form of "mad-cow" disease. Remarkably, a very similar process has recently been discovered in yeast. Here it does no harm and can even give cells a new capacity to survive conditions that would otherwise kill them. Yeast cells provide a great opportunity to study this process because they are so cheap to grow and easy to manipulate. Dr. Lindquist will speak about her work using yeast as a living "test tube" to study protein folding in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, with the aim of providing new strategies for fighting disease and a much greater understanding of genetics.

Susan Lee Lindquist received her Ph.D. in Biology from Harvard University and her B.A. from the University of Illinois, and then served as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago where she rose from Assistant Professor to full Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology (1976 to 2001) and was also a Howard Hughes Investigator (1988 to 2001). She joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001 as Professor of Biology and Director of the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research. Dr. Lindquist’s honors are numerous. It is of special relevance to note that she gave the Keith Porter Lecture at the 2001 American Society for Cell Biology annual meeting, the Arthur M. Sackler Lecture at the National Academy of Sciences in 2002 and the Allan C. Wilson Memorial Lecture in 2002. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1998. In 2000 she was awarded the Novartis Drew Award in Biomedical Research.

The Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the summer at the MBL. The lectures in the series are:

July 4
"Climate Change and Human Health: The Picture Begins to Clarify"
Tony McMichael, Australian National University

July 11
"Making an Effort to Listen: Mechanical Amplification by Novel Molecular Motors in the Ear"
James Hudspeth, The Rockefeller University

July 17
Forbes Lectures
"Brain to Brain: A Neurobiology of Vocal Communication"
Darcy Kelley, Columbia University

July 18
"Generating Male and Female Brains: A Molecular Alphabet for Sexual Differentiation"
Darcy Kelley, Columbia University

July 25
Glassman Lecture
"Addressing the Threat of Anthrax"
R. John Collier, Harvard Medical School

August 1
"Intraflagellar Transport and Cilia-Dependent Diseases"
Joel Rosenbaum, Yale University

August 8
"Regulation of Aging by SIR2"
Lenny Guarente, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

August 15
"Gene Action in the Pathobiology of Aging"
George Martin, University of Washington

The Marine Biological Laboratory is an independent scientific institution, founded in 1888, that undertakes the highest level of creative research and education in biology, including the biomedical and environmental sciences.