Honors Program Lecture Series

The Honors Program Lecture Series is NYU School of Medicine's premier lecture series featuring research seminars by outstanding scientists from around the world to the entire NYU School of Medicine research community of scientists, physicians, and students. Receptions held after each lectures provide opportunity for students to meet with the guest lecturer. The lecture series is sponsored by the Honors Program, which offers research opportunities in the basic sciences for medical students. To learn more about this program please visit: http://school.med.nyu.edu/research/honors-program.

Meeting times: Mondays at 4:00PM 

Meeting Location: Alumni Hall B

Attendance: Open to all NYU Langone Medical Center Faculty, Trainees, and Staff

Contact: If you have any questions about this seminar series please contact Josephine Markiewicz


Upcoming Honors Lecture:

"The Genetic Basis of Innate Behaviors"

Leslie B. Vosshall, PhD

Robin Chemers Neustein Professor, Rockefeller University, New York, NY.  HHMI Investigator

Monday, April 20, 2015 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Alumni Hall B

Hosted by: Ed Ziff

My group is interested in the molecular neurobiology of mosquito host-seeking behavior. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal to complete egg development. In carrying out this innate behavior, mosquitoes spread dangerous infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. Humans attract mosquitoes via multiple sensory cues including emitted body odor, heat, and carbon dioxide in the breath. The mosquito perceives differences in these cues, both between and within species, to determine which animal or human to target for blood-feeding. We have developed CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing in the yellow fever and dengue vector mosquito, Aedes aegypti, with the goal of understand how sensory cues are integrated by the female mosquito to lead to host-seeking behavior. Some of the questions we are currently addressing are: Why are some people more attractive to mosquitoes than others? How do insect repellents work? How are multiple sensory cues integrated in the mosquito brain to elicit innate behaviors? How do female mosquitoes select a suitable body of water to lay their eggs? Recent advances from my group in analyzing the molecular biology of host-seeking behavior will be discussed.

 

2014-2015 Honors Program Schedule  

Sept | Oct | Nov | Dec | Jan | Feb | March | April | May | June | July | Aug

 

November 2014

November 17, 2014

Daniel A. Portnoy, PhD

Professor and Edward E. Penhoet Distinguished Chair in Global Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and School of Publick Health, University of California, Berkeley; Berkeley, CA

Title of Talk:Innate Immunity to Intracellular Pathogens: Implication for Vaccine Development and Cancer Immunotherapy

Hosted by: Dan Littman

Prevention and treatment of diseases caused by intracellular pathogens remains one of the largest challenges facing the international biomedical community. A central problem that we address is how intracellular pathogens are recognized by the host and how the immune system integrates multiple signals to induce an appropriate response, and conversely, how pathogens avoid and/or manipulate the host response to promote their pathogenesis.  We have chosen to approach this problem by a detailed analysis of Listeria monocytogenes, an intracellular pathogen that has been studied for many decades as a model system with which to dissect basic aspects of infection & immunity. Infection of mice with L. monocytogenes induces robust and long-lived cell mediated immunity. L. monocytogenes provides a highly tractable model to study many aspects of host-pathogen interactions, ranging from basic microbiology, cell biology of infection, innate immune responses in vitro and in vivo, acquired immunity, and vaccine development. In addition, attenuated strains of L. monocytogenes expressing and secreting foreign antigens have been developed by the private sector as therapeutic vaccines for cancer immunotherapy, and in recent phase 2 studies, have shown remarkable success in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.  In this lecture, I will address the cell biological and immunological properties that contribute to the induction of cell-mediated immunity by L. monocytogenes. 

 

December 2014

December 1, 2014

Eric Olson, PhD

Professor and Chairman of Molecular Biology; Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research; Pogue Distinguished Chair in Research on Cardiac Birth Defects; The Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Science; University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX

Title of Talk: Understanding Muscle Development, Disease and Regeneration

Hosted by: Ruth Lehmann

We seek to define the networks of genes and proteins that govern development, disease and regeneration of the heart and other muscle tissues.  Through gene expression profiling, coupled with gain- and loss-of-function approaches in mice, we have discovered collections of novel muscle-specific genes encoding proteins and long non-coding RNAs with central roles in myriad processes of muscle tissues, including myoblast fusion, nerve-muscle interactions, contractility, muscle growth, sarcomere assembly and inter-tissue signaling.  The functions of selected new genes in muscle development and disease and the insights they have provided into the biology of muscle will be discussed.  Prospects for correcting muscle disease through CRISPR-mediated genomic editing will also be presented.

December 8, 2014

Steven McKnight, PhD

Professor and Chairman of Biochemistry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas TX

Title of Talk: A Solid State Conceptualization of information Transfer from Gene to Message to Protein

Hosted by: Evgeny Nudler

The vast majority of DNA and RNA regulatory proteins consist of two parts.  One such part enables direct recognition of DNA or RNA, is well folded, and is represented by canonical domains including zinc fingers, homeoboxes, leucine zippers, RNA recognition motifs, KH domains and pumilio domains.  The other part is typified by poorly folded, low complexity sequences whose mechanistic basis of function has long been enigmatic.  When incubated at high concentration, certain of these low complexity domains can polymerize into amyloid-like fibers.  My presentation will outline studies indicating that low complexity sequence polymers may represent the organizational basis for the formation of nuclear and cytoplasmic puncta including nuclear speckles, P granules, stress granules and neuronal granules.  It is our speculation that from the birth of a transcript in the nucleus to its ultimate translation in the cytoplasm, the entire pathway of information flow is guided by movement of the message through a solid state pathway of polymeric fibers.   This “informational cytoskeleton” is regulated in a dynamic manner by post-translational modification including phosphorylation, and can be impinged in disease states via mutational events that either enhance fiber stability or clog the dynamic behavior of puncta.    

 

December 15, 2014

Aviv Regev, PhD

Core Member, Broad Institute of MIT & Harvard; Associate Professor of Biology, MIT; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Cambridge, MA

Title of Talk: Reconstructing Regulatory Circuits: From Cells to Tissues

Hosted by: Dan Littman

Molecular circuits are the information processing devices of cells and organisms, transforming extra- and intra-cellular signals into coherent cellular responses. While there has been hope that genomic approaches would make it possible to systematically reconstruct circuitry, genomic studies have largely been observational and rarely involve large-scale testing and refinement of models. In the past several years we developed a systematic strategy to reconstruct circuitry by combining genomic profiling, computational modeling, and large-scale systematic perturbations. We applied this strategy to immune cells ex vivo, studying circuits in both innate and adaptive immune cells. In this talk, I will describe our overall strategy and how we are working to tackle challenges posed by dissecting circuits in vivo, including cell type diversity and heterogeneity and the complex organization of tissues.

 

 

January 2015

January 5, 2015

Brenda A. Schulman, PhD

Member, St Jude Faculty; Investigator HHMI; Co-Director, Cancer Genetics, Biochemistry & Cell Biology Program; St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN

Title of Talk: Twist and Turns in Ubiquitin Conjugation Cascades

Hosted by: Ruth Lehmann

 

January 26, 2015 - TO BE RESCHEDULED

Oliver Hobert, PhD

Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University, New York, NY; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Title of Talk: Gene Regulatory Logic of Neuronal Cell Type Specification

Hosted by: Ruth Lehmann

 

 

 

February 2015

February 2, 2015

Robert H. Brown, MD

Professor and Chair of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA

Title of Talk: ALS: New Genes and New Models

Hosted by: Steve Burden

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a uniformly lethal motor neuron disease. More than 40 gene mutations have been identified that either cause or modify the course of ALS. This presentation will summarize recent themes from ALS genetics and describe new ALS models based on recent genetic studies. The development of new ALS models both in vitro and in vivo supports the view that therapies for ALS will be developed

 

February 23, 2015

Sir Peter Ratcliffe, MD

Professor of Clinical Medicine, Head of Nuffield Department of Medicine; University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Title of Talk: Signalling Oxygen Levels by Protein Hydroxylation: the New Physiology of Hypoxia

Hosted by: Dan Littman

 

 

 

 

March 2015

March 2, 2015

Christof Koch, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer, Allen Institute for Brain Science, Seattle, WA

Title of Talk: TBD

Hosted by: Ed Ziff

 

March 9, 2015

Janet Rossant, PhD

Professor, Departments of Molecular Genetics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Chair, Pediatric Research; University of Toronto, Toronto, ON

Title of Talk: Making the Mouse Blastocyst

Hosted by: Ruth Lehmann

 

March 16, 2015 - CANCELLED

Rafi Ahmed, PhD

Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA; Director, Emory Vaccine Center

Title of Talk: T Cell Memory and Exhaustion

Hosted by: Dan Littman

T cell exhaustion due to persistent antigen stimulation is a key feature of chronic viral infections and cancer. PD-1 is a major regulator of T cell exhaustion and blockade of this inhibitory pathway restores T cell function and improves pathogen control and tumor eradication. In this talk I will discuss our work on PD-1 blockade during chronic viral infections and also present data on epigenetic regulation of memory CD8 T cell differentiation.

March 23, 2015

Thomas R. Cech, PhD

Distinguished Pofessor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado Boulder; Director, Unviersity of Colorado BioFrontiers Institute; Investigatr, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1989; National Medal of Science, 1995

Title of Talk: Telomerase and its Reactivation in Cancer

Hosted by: Evgeny Nudler

Telomerase synthesizes telomeric DNA to maintain linear chromosome ends in most eukaryotes. Recent research in the Cech Lab has shown (1) how human telomerase is recruited to telomeres, (2) how recurrent cancer-specific mutations in the hTERT promoter drive telomerase production, and (3) how the epigenetic state of the hTERT gene is switched by a single base-pair change.

March 30, 2015

Hongkui Zeng, PhD

Senior Director, Research Science; Allen Institute for Brain Science

Title of Talk: Genetic Approaches to Brain Circuit Mapping and Cell Type Characterization

The brain circuit is an intricately interconnected network of numerous cell types. At the Allen Institute, we are developing a comprehensive program to combine molecular, genetic, anatomical and physiological approaches to unravel the diversity and connectivity of the neuronal cell types that compose of neural circuits. To build ground-laying technologies, we have generated transgenic mouse lines that target sensors and effectors to specific types of cells to enable identification, labeling, monitoring and manipulation of these cells. In our cell types program, we use the mouse visual cortex as a model to characterize the transcriptomic, morphological, and electrophysiological properties of different kinds of neurons in a standardized way, towards a systematic taxonomy of cell types for this circuit. Finally, we wish to gain a comprehensive and detailed understanding of how different types of neurons are connected to each other. The Allen Mouse Brain Connectivity Atlas represents the first of such large-scale efforts, in which axonal projections from different regions and different cell types within these regions are systematically mapped throughout the brain to generate a 3D whole-brain projectome

 

 

April 2015

April 6, 2015

Daniel Kastner, MD, PhD

NIH Distinguished Investigator and Scientific Director, Division of Intramural Research, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD.

Title of Talk: In Search of our Inner Zebras: Adventures in the Genomics of Inflammation

Hosted by: Dan Littman

​Sir William Harvey famously noted that “the careful investigation of rarer forms of disease” may provide profound insights into the “secret mysteries” of Nature. For over a quarter century our research group has used the tools of genetics and genomics to understand the molecular basis of inherited diseases that present with fever and profound inflammation. In this lecture I will discuss the clinical spectrum of these inherited disorders of inflammation and the evolving techniques to discover the underlying genes, methods that now regularly permit the discovery of new diseases from the analysis of as few as two unrelated patients. I will also discuss what these genetic discoveries have taught us about the biology of the innate immune system, the direct and sometimes dramatic implications of these findings for diagnosis and treatment, and the possible implications of these studies for understanding the genetic architecture of more common sporadic forms of autoinflammatory and autoimmune disease.

April 20, 2015

Leslie B. Vosshall, PhD

Robin Chemers Neustein Professor, Rockefeller University, New York, NY; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Title of Talk: The Genetic Basis of Inate Behaviors

Hosted by: Ed Ziff

My group is interested in the molecular neurobiology of mosquito host-seeking behavior. Female mosquitoes require a blood meal to complete egg development. In carrying out this innate behavior, mosquitoes spread dangerous infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever. Humans attract mosquitoes via multiple sensory cues including emitted body odor, heat, and carbon dioxide in the breath. The mosquito perceives differences in these cues, both between and within species, to determine which animal or human to target for blood-feeding. We have developed CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing in the yellow fever and dengue vector mosquito, Aedes aegypti, with the goal of understand how sensory cues are integrated by the female mosquito to lead to host-seeking behavior. Some of the questions we are currently addressing are: Why are some people more attractive to mosquitoes than others? How do insect repellents work? How are multiple sensory cues integrated in the mosquito brain to elicit innate behaviors? How do female mosquitoes select a suitable body of water to lay their eggs? Recent advances from my group in analyzing the molecular biology of host-seeking behavior will be discussed.

April 27, 2015

Oliver Hobert, PhD

Professor of Systems Biology, and of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City; HHMI Investigator

Title of Talk: Decoding the Gene Regulatory Logic of Neuronal Cell Type Specification

Hosted by: Ruth Lehmann

One of the central questions in developmental neurobiology is how a developing organism can generate a vast array of distinct neuronal cell types. For a terminally differentiating neuron this question boils down to a gene regulatory question: how is the expression of the distinct batteries of genes that define the terminal, functional properties of distinct neuron type induced and maintained? Through the decoding of cis-regulatory elements and forward genetic screens in the nematode C.elegans, my laboratory has begun to uncover what appear to some simple, phylogenetically conserved principles that underlie the generation of diverse neuronal identities.

 

May 2015

May 4, 2015

Kim Lewis, PhD

University Distinguished Professor; Director Antimicrobial Discovery Center, Northeastern Univeristy, Boston MA

Title of Talk: TBD

Hosted by: Richard Novick

 

May 11, 2015

Michael N. Hall, PhD

Professor of Biochemistry, Biozentrum Basel, Basel Switzerland

Title of Talk: mTOR Signaling in Growth and Metabolism

Hosted by: Ruth Lehmann

 

May 18, 2015

Robert T. Sauer, PhD

Salvador E. Luria Professor of Biology, MIT Camridge, MA

Title of Talk: Machines of Protein Destruction

Hosted by: Evgeny Nudler

 

 

June 2015

June 1, 2015

Lora Hooper, PhD

Professor, Departments of Immunology, Center for Genetics of Host Defense, and Microbiology, UT Southwestern Medical Center; Jonathan W. Uhr MD Distinguished Chair in Immunology; Nancy Cain and Jeffrey A Marcus Scholar in Medical Research, in Honor of Dr. Bill S. Vowell

Title of Talk: Microbiota-Immune System Interaction in the Intestine

Hosted by: Dan Littman / Heran Darwin

 

June 8, 2015

David A. Agard, PhD

Professor, Departments of Biochemistry/Biophysics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, UCSF; Scientific Director, Institute for Bioengineering, Biotechnology, and Quantitative Biomedical Research, UCSF/UC-Berkeley/UC-Santa Cruz

Title of Talk: The Stucture and Mechanism of the Hsp90 Molecular Chaperone: New Insights into the Yin and Yang of Client Activation

Hosted by: Ruth Lehmann

 

June 15, 2015

Rudolf Jaenisch, MD

Professor of Biology, Whitehead Institute / MIT, Cambridge MA

Title of Talk: TBD

Hosted by: Ruth Lehmann

 

 

For a complete schedule of all upcoming seminars for this series, click here