SQI Distinguished Lecture:
Jack W. Szostak
Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, 2009
He will present a two part lecture titled:
"The Transition from Complex Chemistry to Simple Biology"
Part 1: "The Surprising Chemistry of Nonenzymatic RNA Replication"
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 4:00pm
303 East Superior Street
Part 2: "Systems Level Puzzles in Protocell Design"
Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 4:00pm
Pancoe Abbott Auditorium
2200 Campus Drive
Reception to follow each lecture.
Contact Jillian Helding for more details.
View Flyer Here
Part 1: The Surprising Chemistry of Nonenzymatic RNA Replication The RNA genomes of the first cells are thought to have emerged from the nonenzymatic replication of short RNA strands, which allowed the first ribozymes to evolve, followed by the evolution of ribozyme catalyzed replication. However, no process for the replication of a nucleic acid genome, independent of evolved enzymatic machinery, has yet been described. I will discuss our recent progress towards the realization of an efficient and accurate system for the chemical replication of RNA. Mechanistic and structural studies have led to new chemical replication systems that are both more prebiotically plausible and more accurate, efficient, and general.
Part 2: Systems Level Puzzles in Protocell Design How did the first cells grow and divide, in the absence of any evolved biochemical machinery? I will illustrate simple physical and chemical processes that can drive the growth and division of model protocell membranes in a robust and prebiotically plausible fashion. I will then discuss some of the interesting challenges that arise when trying to integrate chemically replicating RNA with a replicating membrane system. Finally, I will discuss physical mechanisms that could act to coordinate the replication of the RNA and membrane components of a primitive protocell.
About the Speaker
Dr. Szostak is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, and the Alex Rich Distinguished Investigator in the Dept. of Molecular Biology and the Center for Computational and Integrative Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Szostak's early research on telomere structure and function, and the role of telomere maintenance in preventing cellular senescence was recognized by the 2006 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. In the 1990s Dr. Szostak and his colleagues developed in vitro selection as a tool for the isolation of functional RNA, DNA and protein molecules from large pools of random sequences. Dr. Szostak's current research interests are in the laboratory synthesis of self-replicating systems and the origin of life.
More on the Szostak Lab Here