Friday Evening Lecture Series – Porter Lecture – “Biology is the Technology of this Century”

Date(s) - 07/05/2013
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Lillie Auditorium

Friday Evening Lecture SeriesPorter Lecture – “Biology is the Technology of this Century”
Pamela A. Silver, Harvard Medical School
July 5, 2013, 8:00 PM, Lillie Auditorium

Introduction by Dr. Timothy Mitchison, Hasib Sabbagh Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School

pam-silverLecture Abstract:
In the last century, scientists uncovered much of the fundamental basis for life culminating in the sequence of the human genome and the ability to decipher the genome sequence of all organisms on the earth.   New computational tools and technological developments together with the integration of molecular, cell and biochemistry have led to a detailed knowledge of much of the inner workings of cells, tissues and organisms.  Much as synthetic organic chemistry fueled the chemical industry and microchips the computer industry of the past century, we are now poised to use this vast knowledge to logically engineer biology and launch a new industrial revolution that could impact the health and livability of all.  We thus seek to make the engineering of biology faster and more predictable – creating a synthetic biology.  Examples include new cell-based therapies, optimization of the use of sunlight, and green production of new materials.  The engineering of biology holds enormous potential.  At the same time, there are ethical, environmental and political issues that compel scientists to seek new educational models and interact with the public.  This talk will cover the practice and promise of synthetic biology.


Dr. Pamela Silver is the Elliot T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School.  Her laboratory works in diverse areas of Systems and Synthetic Biology.  The main focus areas include predictable design and re-programming of biological systems and designing systems for improved interactions with the environment.

Dr. Silver received a B.S. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of California where she was an NIH pre-doctoral fellow.  She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University and subsequently was an assistant professor in Molecular Biology at Princeton University. Dr. Silver moved to Harvard Medical School where she was a professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and The Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She was named a Claudia Adams Barr Investigator and awarded the Mentoring Award for the Ph.D. program in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard Medical School. In 2004, Dr. Silver became one of the first members of the Department of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School and the first director of the Harvard University Ph.D. Program in Systems Biology.

In 2009, Dr. Silver became one of the founding members of the Harvard University Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Her work was recognized by an Innovation Award at BIO2007 and has been funded by grants from the NIH, DOD, DOE, DARPA, NSF, Novartis, Merck and The Keck Foundation. She currently holds an NIH MERIT award. She has served on numerous government and private advisory panels including the U.S. House Caucus on Synthetic Biology and is founder of several biotech companies.  She was appointed as a Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute for the 2011-2012 year.

About the Porter Lecture:
The annual Porter Lecture is held in honor of Dr. Keith Roberts Porter, a former Director of the MBL considered by many to be the “Father” of the field of cell biology. It is sponsored by the Keith R. Porter Endowment whose goal is to support communication and education in cell biology.

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