The Kensal E. van Holde Lectureship in Physiology: “Structural Biology of Viruses”

Date(s) - 07/20/2012
9:00 am - 10:00 am
Lillie Auditorium

The Kensal E. van Holde Lectureship in Physiology
“Structural Biology of Viruses”
Steve Harrison, Harvard Medical School/HHMI
July 20, 2012, Lillie Auditorium, 9:00 AM

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Stephen HarrisonStephen C. Harrison
is the Giovanni Armenise-Harvard Professor in Basic Biomedical Sciences at Harvard Medical School, and Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  He obtained his B.A. from Harvard in 1963 and his Ph.D. (Biophysics) from Harvard in 1968.  He has served on the Harvard faculty since 1971.  Between 1972 and 1996, he was Chair of the Board of Tutors in Biochemical Sciences, Harvard’s undergraduate program in biochemistry; he was Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Faculty of Arts & Sciences) from 1988-1992.  For many years, his research laboratory was linked closely with that of the late Don C. Wiley.  Harrison has made important contributions to structural biology, most notably by determining and analyzing the structures of viruses and viral proteins, and also by crystallographic analysis of protein/DNA complexes, and by structural studies of protein-kinase switching mechanisms.  The initiator of high-resolution virus crystallography, he has moved from his early work on tomato bushy stunt virus (1978) to the study of more complex human pathogens, including the capsid of human papillomavirus, the envelope of dengue virus, and several components of HIV.  He has also turned some of his research attention to even more complex assemblies, such as clathrin coated vesicles and kinetochores. Dr. Harrison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Philosophical Society, and a foreign member of EMBO.  He received the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (with Don Wiley and Michael Rossmann) in 1990, the ICN International Prize in Virology in 1998, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize (with Michael Rossmann) in 2001, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Distinguished Achievement Award in Infectious Disease Research in 2005, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography in 2006, and the UCSD/Merck Life Sciences Achievement Award.  He was also the Hans Neurath Lecturer at the University of Washington, Seattle in 2007 and received the William Silen Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award in 2011.


Kensal E. van Holde received B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin. Trained as a physical chemist, his early interests lay in the synthetic polymer field, which led to initial employment in industry.  Dr. van Holde returned to academia in 1957, as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois. There he met J. Woodland Hastings, who asked him to join the faculty of the MBL Physiology course in 1962. Dr. van Holde served as a course faculty member for five years, and later as course director from 1977 to 1981.

Dr. van Holde’s experiences in the Physiology course marked a turning point in his career. The enthusiasm of the staff and students at the MBL fired an excitement for biological research that dominated all of his subsequent work. Indeed, the two major themes of his career—the structure and function of oxygen transport proteins, and the fine structure of chromatin—both had their seeds in work conducted at the MBL.

This fascination with the MBL and a love for Woods Hole has led the van Holde family to return nearly every summer for more than 40 years. During that time Dr. van Holde has served on both the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of the MBL. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

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