The Gertrude Forkosh Waxler Endowed Lecture: “Centriole and Cilia Biogenesis and Evolution”

Date(s) - 06/19/2012
9:00 am - 10:00 am
Lillie Auditorium

The Gertrude Forkosh Waxler Endowed Lecture
“Centriole and Cilia Biogenesis and Evolution”
Monica Bettencourt-Dias, The Gulbenkian Institute, Lisbon
June 19, Lillie Auditorium, 9:00 AM

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Mónica Bettencourt-Dias is a group leader at the Gulbenkian Institute and a member of the Young Investigator Programme from EMBO. She received a Ph.D. from the University College in London, under the supervision of Professor Jeremy Brockes and a post doc with Professor David Glover (University of Cambridge, UK). At the same time she did a two-year diploma course on science communication (Birkbeck College in London). She is the recipient of several awards, including the European Research Council Starting Grant, membership of the EMBO Young Investigator Programme, an EMBO Installation Grant and the Eppendorf Prize. She is also a member of the National Council for Science and Technology in Portugal.

Her laboratory is interested in general principles in biology regarding the counting and assembling of complex subcellular structures, and their variations observed during development, in disease and evolution. She uses complex cytoskeletal assemblies, such as centrioles, as study subjects. Centrioles are microtubule-based cylinders that form centrosomes and cilia, structures involved in many functions, from cell motility to division. Centrosome defects are seen in many cancers, while abnormalities in cilia lead to many diseases including polycystic kidneys and infertility. Finally, centrioles and cilia are highly conserved throughout the eukaryotic tree of life, but have been lost in a variety of species, providing an excellent case study of the evolution of eukaryotic cellular structures. Using multidisciplinary approaches, her laboratory identified critical molecular regulators of centriole number and cilia motility, circuits that control those layers, and mechanisms involved in the evolution of those structures.


The Gertrude Forkosh Waxler Lectureship was established by The FMH Foundation, David S. Forkosh, M.D., President, in memory of his aunt, affectionately known as Gussie.  Gertrude Forkosh Waxler was born and raised in Chicago – the eldest of six children.  As the eldest child, Ms. Waxler was often responsible for the care of younger siblings.  Although she did not have the advantage of a college degree, Ms. Waxler recognized the value of education and understood its importance to one’s future.  She worked in a jewelry store for thirty years using her income to put her brothers and brothers-in-law through medical and dental school.  Among family members, she is remembered for her loyalty, devotion, and sacrifices.  Ms. Waxler is one of many women who labored selflessly so that others might prosper.  She possessed the spirit of philanthropy and the desire to make a difference.  Today we celebrate Ms. Waxler’s legacy by dedicating this lecture in her honor.

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