Dr. Randy Schekman is a Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He studied the enzymology of DNA replication as a graduate student with Arthur Kornberg at Stanford University. His current interest in cellular membranes developed during a postdoctoral period with S. J. Singer at the University of California, San Diego. At Berkeley, he developed a genetic and biochemical approach to the study of eukaryotic membrane traffic. Among his awards are the Gairdner International Award, the Albert Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research and the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which he shared with James Rothman and Thomas Südhof. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, a Foreign Associate of the Accademia Draculaonale dei Lincei, a Foreign Associate of the Royal Society of London and an Honorary Academician of the Academia Sinica. In 1999, he was elected President of the American Society for Cell Biology. In 2002 he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Annual Reviews of Cell and Developmental Biology. From 2006 – 2011 he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Proceedings of the NAS. In 2011, he was appointed Editor-in-Chief of an Open Access journal, eLife, sponsored by the HHMI, Wellcome Trust and the Max Planck Society.
Schekman’s laboratory investigates the mechanism of membrane protein traffic in the secretory pathway in eukaryotic cells. His approach began with a genetic and biochemical dissection of the secretory pathway in the yeast, S.cerevisiae. His lab discovered the genes and proteins that assemble proteins into the endoplasmic reticulum membrane, package proteins into coated (COPII) transport vesicles and deliver vesicles by fusion at a target membrane. The genes and proteins his lab discovered in yeast have counterparts in all eukaryotes and have been implicated in several human genetic diseases. The evolutionary conservation of the pathway discovered in Schekman’s lab encouraged the biotechnology industry to use yeast as a platform for the production of clinically important human secreted proteins. Approximately one-third of the world supply of recombinant human insulin is made by secretion in yeast and the entire world supply of recombinant hepatitis b vaccine is made in vesicles produced in yeast. As hepatitis b infection is the major cause of liver cancer in the world, this vaccine promises to reduce the incidence of liver cancer by 90%. In recent years his lab has turned from yeast to mammalian cell culture to investigate aspects of human physiology and disease that are not readily studied in yeast.
Stephen L. Buchwald received his Sc.B. degree from Brown University in 1977 where he worked with Kathlyn A. Parker and David E. Cane at Brown University as well as Professor Gilbert Stork at Columbia University. He entered Harvard University as a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in 1977 and received his Ph.D. in 1982. His thesis work, with Jeremy R. Knowles, concerned the mechanism of phosphoryl transfer reactions in chemistry and biochemistry. He then was a Myron A. Bantrell postdoctoral fellow at Caltech with Professor Robert H. Grubbs where he studied titanocene methylenes as reagents in organic synthesis and the mechanism of Ziegler-Natta polymerization. In 1984 he began as an assistant professor of chemistry MIT. He was promoted to the associate professor (1989) and to Professor (1993) and was named the Camille Dreyfus Professor in 1997. In July 2015, he became Associate Head of the Chemistry Department at MIT. During his time at MIT he has received numerous honors including the Harold Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award of MIT, an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, the 2000 Award in Organometallic Chemistry from the American Chemical Society and a MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health. He has also been the recipient of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Distinguished Achievement Award and the CAS Science Spotlight Award, both received in 2005 and the American Chemical Society’s Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry as well as the Siegfried Medal Award in Chemical Methods which Impact Process Chemistry, both received in 2006. In 2010 he received the Gustavus J. Esselen Award for Chemistry in the Public Interest. He received the 2013 Arthur C. Cope Award from the American Chemical Society. In 2014 he was the recipient of the Linus Pauling Medal Award and the Ulysses Medal (University College Dublin). In 2015 he received an honorary doctoral degree from the University of South Florida, and also received the BBVA Frontiers in Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences (2014 Award). He was recently selected to receive the 2016 William H. Nichols Medal. In 2000, he was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2008 he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Science. He is the coauthor of over 435 published or accepted papers and 47 issued patents. He serves as a consultant to a number of companies and is an associate editor of Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis.
Professor Li-Huei Tsai is the Director of the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Picower Professor of Neuroscience, and an Associate Member of the Broad Institute. She obtained Ph.D. from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and postdoctoral training at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories and Massachusetts General Hospital. Tsai became Assistant Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and was promoted to tenure Professor at Harvard in 2002. She relocated to Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006. She was an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 1997 to 2013. Tsai is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and an Academician of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan.
Tsai is interested in elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms underlying neurological disorders that impact learning and memory. She takes a multidisciplinary approach to investigate the molecular, systems, and circuit basis of neurodegenerative disorders. Recent contributions include the identification of chromatin remodeling as a means to regulate memory gene expression and enhance cognitive function during neurodegeneration. Her lab also conducts epigenomic analysis of mouse and human Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brain samples and has identified important contributions of dysregulated immune response genes in AD. Currently, the Tsai lab uses induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSCs) derived from human subjects to model AD and large scale imaging, optogenetics, and in vivo electrophysiology to study the brain circuitry affected by AD.
James Barrett, PhD, is a tenured professor in the Department of Neurology at Drexel University College of Medicine. He served as chair of the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology from 2009 to 2015. He was responsible for the creation of the master’s degree program in Drug Discovery & Development, and also served as founding director of the Clinical & Translational Research Institute.
The Drug Discovery & Development program provides an opportunity for students to have an in-depth exposure to the many different facets of drug discovery and development, ranging from the early identification of a molecular target through the multiple steps involved in preclinical assessment and clinical development, ultimately leading to approval and post-marketing activities. The objective is to provide opportunities for students in both the MS and PhD programs who may be interested in a career in the pharmaceutical and/or biotechnology industry to acquire formal exposure to these processes in the context of their graduate training.
Dr. Barrett teaches in a wide variety of programs in both the medical and graduate schools on topics including substance abuse disorders, animal models, translational research and drug discovery. He has held a number of academic positions prior to coming to Drexel University College of Medicine. In addition to his academic programmatic research and teaching, he also served as vice president of neuroscience discovery research at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and was chief scientific officer and senior vice president at Memory Pharmaceuticals and at Adolor Corporation.
He is past president of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, past president of the Behavioral Pharmacology Society and past president of the Association of Medical School Pharmacology Chairs. He has received a number of honorific awards, including the Solvay-Duphar Award for research on affective disorders, the Peter B. Dews Lifetime Achievement Award for Research in Behavioral Pharmacology, the George B. Koelle Award for contributions to teaching and research in pharmacology, and the Torald Sollman Award for significant contributions to the advancement and extension of knowledge in the field of pharmacology.
Dr. Barrett was recently appointed editor-in-chief of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacologyand currently serves on the Executive Committee of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology (IUPHAR).
Dr. Boone received his PhD in molecular biology in 1989 from McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He then did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at the Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Oregon, in Eugene and, in 1993, founded his own research lab at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada. In 1999, he received the Ontario Government’s Premier’s Research Excellence Award. He is also a recipient of the William E. Rawls Award for Research Excellence of the National Cancer Institute of Canada, the 2003 Merck Frosst Award of the Canadian Society of Biochemistry, and the 2006 Ira Herskowitz award at the Yeast Genetics and Molecular Biology Meeting. He is currently professor and Canada Research Chair at the University of Toronto’s Banting and Best Department of Medical Research. Dr. Boone was an Howard Hughes Medical Institute international research scholar from 2000 to 2010.
Dr. Lee Rubin received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from The Rockefeller University and completed postdoctoral fellowships in Pharmacology from Harvard Medical School and in Neurobiology from Stanford University School of Medicine. He has a broad experience in both academia and industry, particularly in the realms of cell-based assays and drug discovery. Prior to coming to Harvard, he was Chief Scientific Officer of Curis, Inc., a Cambridge-based biotechnology company, where his group identified the first small molecule regulators of the hedgehog signaling pathway. One of their antagonists was developed by Genentech and is now (as Erivedge) approved as the first oral treatment for metastatic basal cell carcinoma. At Harvard, much of his work is focused on finding key molecular mediators of different neurodegenerative diseases and on searching for effective preclinical therapeutic candidates. His group’s research takes advantage of their ability to produce large numbers of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell lines and of effective means of deriving large numbers of differentiated neurons from them. They have set up an array of techniques that allow them to identify early cellular and physiological changes in neurons as they become diseased. For example, they have identified new targets for the treatment of the motor neuron disorders Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. They are also studying Autism Spectrum Disorders, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Recently, his group discovered that a circulating protein, GDF11, has the ability to reverse some of the changes in the CNS associated with aging. They are actively exploring the therapeutic implications of these observations as well.