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  Arthur S. Levine, M.D.

Arthur S. Levine, M.D.
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University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

Expert On Cell Signaling Philip Beachy To Present Next Laureate Lecture At University Of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, May 5, 2006 — In the second installment of the 2006 Senior Vice Chancellor’s Laureate Lecture Series, Philip A. Beachy, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will discuss how cell differentiation and the growth and development of malignant cells are influenced by the Hedgehog signaling molecule, a protein secreted during embryonic development that plays a role in the development of skin, pancreatic and brain tissues, among others.

His lecture, “Hedgehog Signaling in Development and Disease,” will take place at noon on Wednesday, May 17, in Auditorium 6 of Scaife Hall, 3550 Terrace St., on the university’s Oakland campus. This event is free and open to the public.

“Dr. Beachy’s research represents a perfect blend of outstanding basic science and well-designed biomedical translation. His work should appeal to a wide range of our own investigators, and I’m pleased to welcome him to campus for this special event,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine .

Dr. Beachy is professor of molecular biology and genetics and of oncology at Johns Hopkins, as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. His research interests center on the molecular mechanisms that organize the growth of multicellular embryos. The major focus of his work has been on cell-to-cell signals such as those mediated by the secreted proteins of the Hedgehog family.

The Hedgehog signaling pathway is critical during embryonic and fetal development because it affects cell fate determination, pattern formation, cell proliferation and formation of various tissue types. If the Hedgehog signal is turned on later in life, however, it can lead to cancer.

Dr. Beachy’s current work is focused on developing a detailed understanding of the steps involved in the transfer of the Hedgehog signal from a cell’s surface to its nucleus. His focus has begun to shift from embryonic patterning to postembryonic Hedgehog signaling activities, which are becoming important factors in tissue regeneration as well as tumor formation.

After receiving his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Stanford University, Dr. Beachy began his research career as a staff associate in the department of embryology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1986. He moved to Johns Hopkins in 1988.

In 1998, Dr. Beachy received the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology. He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 2002. He also is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Other upcoming presentations in the 2006 Laureate Lecture Series include:

  • Thursday, September 7—“Repeated DNA—Its Role in Virulence, Evolution and Cancer” by Gerald R. Fink, Ph.D., of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Thursday, November 9—“Telomerase in Cancer and Stem Cell Failure” by Carol W. Greider, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

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