Friday Evening Lecture Series – “Why I Love Bacteria”

Date(s) - 08/02/2013
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Lillie Auditorium

Friday Evening Lecture Series“Why I Love Bacteria”
Richard J. Roberts, New England Biolabs; Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, 1993
August 2, 2013, 8:00 PM, Lillie Auditorium

Introduction by Dr. Joan Ruderman, President and Director, MBL

Rich Roberts-2012Lecture Abstract:
We live in a fascinating world surrounded by life.  Much of that life is clearly visible like the plants and animals that we see every day.  However, far more is invisible to the naked eye and it is this realm, the microscopic world that will be discussed in this talk.

These unseen bugs can be friends such as the Bifidobacteria that we find in yogurt or they can be our deadly foes such as Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that caused the Black Death that decimated Europe in the Middle Ages.  This unseen world is fascinating and is far richer and more complicated than the macroscopic world of elephants and giraffes.

These organisms live in and on our bodies as well as in every environment, even the harshest, found on earth. They may also live elsewhere in the solar system! Without these bugs we would be unable to survive on earth and yet we know rather little about them. We don’t even know how many different kinds there are.

Perhaps your skin will crawl just a little when you realize how many passengers, both friendly and unfriendly, are riding around with us and lying in wait in the oceans and jungles.

Sir Richard Roberts
is the Chief Scientific Officer of New England Biolabs, the industry leader in the discovery and production of enzymes for molecular biology applications. Dr. Roberts was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, sharing the honor with Phillip A. Sharp, for his contribution to the discovery of introns in eukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing. The discovery has been of fundamental importance for today’s basic research in biology, as well as for more medically oriented research concerning the development of cancer and other diseases.

Dr. Robert’s current research interests focus on using bioinformatics and genomics to find new enzyme activities and to drive his experimental program. Most recently he is involved in a large community based project aimed at improving the functional annotation of genomes.

Dr. Roberts was educated in England, attending St. Stephen’s School and the City of Bath Boys’ School in Bath before moving to the University of Sheffield where he obtained a B.Sc. in Chemistry in 1965 and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1968. His postdoctoral research was carried out in the laboratory of Professor Jack L. Strominger at Harvard. From 1972 to 1992, Dr. Roberts worked at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, reaching the position of Assistant Director for Research under Dr. James D. Watson. He served as Consultant and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board at New England Biolabs from 1974 to 1992, at which point he was appointed Chief Scientific Officer.

Dr. Roberts has served on numerous scientific advisory boards and holds honorary degrees from several universities, including Doctor of Medicine degrees from the University of Uppsala and Bath University, and Doctor of Science degrees from Sheffield University and Derby University. In 2008 he was knighted by Prince Charles in Buckingham Palace, England.

Dr. Roberts is a member of several societies including the American Society for Microbiology, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Microbiology.



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