Scientific heavyweights to speak at Jan. 28 Hopkins symposium


General news and science reporters, editors, broadcasters and photographers are invited to The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Friday, Jan. 28, to hear six of the nation's best-known biological scientists -- including Nobel laureates David Baltimore and Sydney Brenner -- at a symposium, "Toward the Third New Biology."

The symposium, whose title refers to anticipated advances in biology in the post-double-helix, post-genome-sequencing world, will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the Wood Basic Science Auditorium at 725 N. Wolfe St., Baltimore, on the medical school campus. [The schedule of speakers is below; a short biographical note for each of the speakers is available through the contact information above.]

"The symposium is designed to celebrate interdisciplinary research, particularly in biological research and its application to human health and disease," says Edward D. Miller, M.D., dean and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

In 1953, Watson and Crick merged evidence from chemistry, biology and structural biology to correctly describe the double-helical structure of DNA. The first "new biology" that followed saw scientists blend traditional disciplines to unravel basic genetic functions. These efforts were rewarded by the "second new biology," ushered in by discoveries that ultimately enabled sequencing of entire genomes.

"Now the 'third new biology,' is beginning as researchers use genomes to help unravel fundamental biological and disease processes," says symposium co-organizer Aravinda Chakravarti, Ph.D., director of the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Hopkins.

"Like biology in the 1950's and 1960's, this new biology crosses disciplines, but the scope of questions being asked requires a new combination of approaches -- particularly bioinformatics, computational biology, mathematics and chemistry," says Stephen Desiderio, M.D., Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics and director of Johns Hopkins' Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences. "The point is to bring people with various kinds of expertise together to address common research interests using new tools."

The six speakers include the two Nobel Laureates with big picture views, a genetic pioneer involved in identifying victims of human rights tragedies, and a high-profile chemist who probes biological functions using "pre-drugs." They are accompanied by a biologist studying why the wonder-drug Gleevec doesn't work for everyone, and a scientist who knows how growing nerves meet their matches and how the connections they form determine worms' behaviors.

At Johns Hopkins, the "third new biology" is reflected in the goals and efforts of the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences, the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine and the Institute for Cell Engineering. The three institutes and the School of Medicine are co-sponsoring the symposium.

Symposium schedule:

10:30 - 10:45 Edward Miller, Johns Hopkins Medicine
Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:45 - 11:30 David Baltimore, California Institute of Technology
"NF-B: Specificity hidden in apparent generality"

11:30 - 12:15 Stuart Schreiber, Harvard University
"Small molecules, small-molecule screens, and ChemBank"

12:15 - 1:30 Lunch break (lunch is not provided)

1:30 - 2:15 John Kuriyan, University of California, Berkeley
"Regulatory mechanisms in the Src and Abl tyrosine kinases"

2:15 - 3:00 Cornelia Bargmann, The Rockefeller University
"Oxygen sensation and the genetics of natural behavior"

3:00 - 3:30 Coffee Break

3:30 - 4:15 Mary-Claire King, University of Washington
"Human genomics and human rights"

4:15 - 5:00 Sydney Brenner, Molecular Sciences Institute
"The next steps in human genetics"

A reception will follow the symposium in the lobby outside the auditoriums.

Media: To attend or to request the speakers' short bios, contact Joanna Downer at or 410-614-5105.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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