For further information, contact the MBL Communications Office at (508) 289-7423 or e-mail us at email@example.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 14, 2011
Contact: Susan Joslin, (508) 289-7281; firstname.lastname@example.org
Nobel Prize Winner Jack Szostak to Discuss the Origins of Life at July 22 MBL Friday Evening Lecture
WOODS HOLE, MAHow did life begin? The complexity of modern biological life has long made it difficult to understand how life could emerge spontaneously four billion years ago from the chemistry of the early earth. The key to resolving this mystery lies in the simplicity of the earliest living cells.
Harvard professor and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Jack Szostak will describe how his efforts to design and build very simple living cells are testing our assumptions about the nature of life, generating ideas about how life emerged from chemistry, and even offering clues as to how modern life evolved from its earliest ancestors, at the July 22 MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Friday Evening Lecture at 8:00 PM in the MBL's Lillie Auditorium, 7 MBL Street, Woods Hole. The event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Szostak is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and the Alex Rich Distinguished Investigator in the Department of Molecular Biology and the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital. By building simple cell-like structures in a test tube, he and his colleagues are attempting to establish a plausible path that led primitive cells to emerge from simple chemicals.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Szostak made fundamental contributions to the understanding of the structure and function of the ends of chromosomesthe telomeresand the role of telomere maintenance in preventing cellular senescence. If the telomeres are shortened, cells age. Conversely, if telomerase activity is high, telomere length is maintained, and cellular senescence is delayed. This is the case in cancer cells, which can be considered to have eternal life. Certain inherited diseases, in contrast, are characterized by a defective telomerase, resulting in damaged cells. For this work Dr. Szostak shared, with Drs. Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol Greider, the 2006 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Their discovery of a fundamental mechanism in the cell has stimulated the development of new therapeutic strategies.
Dr. Szostak is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Friday Evening Lecture Series will continue throughout the summer at the MBL. The remaining lectures in the series are below. For more information, visit www.mbl.edu/FEL.
July 29, 2011
"Coral Reefs: Past, Present and Future"
Nancy Knowlton, Smithsonian Institution
August 5, 2011
"The Broad Spectrum of Prion-Like Diseases and the Quest for Therapeutics"
Stanley B. Prusiner, University of California, San Francisco; Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1997
August 11, 2011
"The Biochemistry of Inflammation: from Microciona to the Microbiome"
Gerald Weissmann, New York University School of Medicine
August 12, 2011
"Genetic Insight Into Candida Infection Biology"
Aaron P. Mitchell, Carnegie Mellon University
August 19, 2011
"Revisiting the Heuser and Reese Synapse in the 21st Century: Do Nerve Cells Kiss?" - Erik M. Jorgensen, University of Utah, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
The Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) is dedicated to scientific discovery and improving the human condition through research and education in biology, biomedicine, and environmental science. Founded in 1888 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the MBL is an independent, nonprofit corporation.