Lecture Title: “From the Cradle to the Grave: My Life at UCSF Watching Proteins Being Made, Folded, and Degraded”
The Academic Senate is pleased to announce the selection of Jonathan Weissman, PhD, as the recipient of the 57th Faculty Research Lecture (Basic Science). Dr. Weissman is currently an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Professor in the Department of Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology.
He will be lecturing on “From the Cradle to the Grave: My Life at UCSF Watching Proteins Being Made, Folded, and Degraded”.
The Academic Senate Faculty Research Lecture will be held in Genentech Hall at the Mission Bay Campus on Thursday, March 6, 2014, at 3:30 p.m. The event will also be live simulcast for viewing from your office or computer.
Dr. Weissman’s research focuses on understanding how cells ensure that proteins fold into their correct shape, as well as the role of protein misfolding in disease and normal physiology. He is also developing experimental and analytical approaches for exploring the organizational principles of biological systems.
One of Dr. Weismann’s most important scientific contributions has been testing the protein-only hypothesis for prion diseases. His work was critical to establishing the molecular basis of prion strains, as the idea of heritable protein conformations had long been considered renegade. Such doubts were dispelled with the publication of an original and seminal Nature magazine article in 2004.
Separately, in 2009 Dr. Weissman’s group reported a ribosome profiling strategy, based on deep sequencing of ribosome protected mRNA fragments, that now enables high precision, genome-wide investigation of translation with sub-codon resolution. This technique was used to monitor translation in budding yeast under both rich and starvation conditions. These studies defined the protein sequences being translated and found extensive translational control both for determining absolute protein abundance and for responding to environmental stress. In over twenty papers since the initial method was reported, Dr. Weissman has uncovered unexpected aspects of translational control in many areas of biology—including an unappreciated aspect of programmed ribosomal pausing during protein synthesis which is thought to aid in the co-translational folding and secretion of some proteins.
Finally, Dr. Weissman’s lab de-orphaned a set of proteins termed ORMDL 1/2/3 in 2010. This was a landmark in asthma research as ORMs represent the strongest genetic association for asthma risk in children. Dr. Weissman research revealed an unexpected role for essential sphingolipids as both structural components of membranes and critical signaling molecules controlled by ORMs. This finding provided a completely new avenue for asthma research.
Dr. Weissman received his PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by David and Lucile Packard and Searle Scholars Program Fellowships. He did postdoctoral work at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Dr. Weissman joined UCSF in 1996. He has received numerous awards since then, and was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 at the age of 43—the second youngest scientist elected in any field that year.
Again, the Academic Senate Faculty Research Lecture will be held in Genentech Hall at the Mission Bay Campus on Thursday, March 6, 2014, at 3:30 p.m. The event will also be live simulcast for viewing from your office or computer. For those unable to view at the time of the event, it will be recorded and made available via MyAccess@UCSF.
A reception will follow outside of Genentech Hall the day of the event.