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Renowned Cell Biologist to Launch 2009 Laureate Lectures at Pitt School of Medicine

PITTSBURGH, March 12, 2009 — Alan Hall, Ph.D., chair of the Cell Biology Program at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, will be the first speaker in the 2009 Senior Vice Chancellor’s Laureate Lecture Series, a year-long program spotlighting some of the top biomedical researchers in their fields. Dr. Hall will speak at noon on Thursday, March 26, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Scaife Hall, Auditorium 6. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Hall’s lecture will deal with the family of proteins known as Rho GTPases that constitute a primary focus of his research.

By exploring how these proteins regulate cell migration and tissue organization and the biochemical pathways through which they act, Dr. Hall’s work has significantly advanced the understanding of the metastatic process by which cancer cells migrate throughout the body.

“Since cancer is primarily a disease of cells, I believe it is through molecular cell biology that a better understanding of the complex changes occurring during malignancy will emerge,” said Dr. Hall.

“In my Sloan-Kettering Institute laboratory, we use techniques of molecular cell biology to identify the biochemical mechanisms that determine cell shape and control cell movement—two of the most fundamental processes of cell biology. Defects in these processes contribute to a wide range of congenital and acquired human disorders, from mental retardation to cancer,” he said.

Before joining Memorial Sloan-Kettering, where he holds an Alfred P. Sloan Chair, Dr. Hall served at the Institute for Cancer Research and at University College in London. He earned his doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University and is a graduate of the University of Oxford. He is a fellow of the U.K.’s Royal Society.

“I’m delighted to welcome Alan Hall, who clearly is a leader in his field and a truly great cell biologist, as the first of this year’s Laureate Lecture speakers, all of whom are among the key investigators of our day,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. “Their work will hold great appeal for broad segments of our researchers at the University, and I’m pleased that the speakers themselves will have a chance to see what a dynamic research environment we have here.”

For a photo of Dr. Hall, contact Kristin Beaver.

Upcoming Laureate Lectures

This year’s other Laureate Lectures, which also will begin at noon in Scaife Hall, Auditorium 6, include:

  • April 23 “A Cilia Pathway to Congenital Heart Disease,” by Cecilia W. Lo, Ph.D., chief of the Laboratory of Developmental Biology at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
  • Oct. 5 “HPV Vaccination to Prevent Cervical Cancer: Current Realities and Future Possibilities,” by Douglas R. Lowy, M.D., chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology at the National Cancer Institute
  • Nov. 17 “Conserved Roles of Small RNAs in Genome Defense,” by Gregory J. Hannon, Ph.D., professor in the Watson School of Biological Sciences, program chair for bioinformatics/genetics, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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