2018 Staples Lecturer in Biochemistry to speak Nov. 15–16

David Bartel of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and Howard Hughes Medical Institute will visit the University of Maine Nov. 15–16 as the 2018 Staples Lecturer in Biochemistry.

The Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences will host Bartel, who is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a leader in the study of noncoding RNA.

Bartel will lead two research seminars for the scientific community, as well as a lecture for a general audience. All talks are free and open to the public.

On Nov. 15, Bartel will speak about “MicroRNAs and other Regulatory RNAs” at 11 a.m. in Hill Auditorium, Barrows Hall. He also will present the public lecture, “Small RNAs that Regulate Genes and Treat Diseases” at 4:30 p.m. in the McIntire Room, Buchanan Alumni House.

Bartel will discuss “The Dynamics of Cytoplasmic mRNA Metabolism” at 11 a.m. Nov. 16 in Hill Auditorium, Barrows Hall.

Bartel’s research centers on RNA, with a special interest in microRNAs, or miRNAs, short RNA molecules that regulate gene expression. He and his laboratory use a variety of methods to discover the abundance of miRNAs, to investigate how miRNAs are made, and to predict which genes miRNAs regulate in plants and animals.

The Bartel Laboratory also has shown how a specific miRNA helps prevent cancer and has contributed to the development of RNA as a tool for silencing gene expression. In addition, the lab has been studying messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and the functions of the tails added to the ends of most mRNAs.

Bartel’s research has been recognized with the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, the National Academy of Sciences’ Award in Molecular Biology and the Institut de France Louis-D. Prize.

Bartel received his undergraduate degree from Goshen College in Indiana before completing his doctorate in virology at Harvard University. He currently is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a member at the Whitehead Institute, and professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Over the past 30 years, the Staples Lectureship in Biochemistry has brought several prominent researchers to UMaine, including three Nobel laureates — Paul Berg, Thomas R. Cech and Roderick MacKinnon. Other prior Staples Lecturers include Joan Brugge, Lewis Cantley, Melanie Cobb, Philip Cohen, Nicholas R. Cozzarelli, Leroy E. Hood, Hugh Huxley, Stuart Kornfeld, Harvey F. Lodish, Tom Maniatis, Maxine Singer and Susan S. Taylor.

For more information, email Benjamin King, benjamin.l.king@maine.edu.