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Leading Expert on Cell Cycle Control to Present Dickson Prize Lecture at University of Pittsburgh’s Science2010

Stephen J. Elledge, Ph.D., to speak at Science2010: Transformations

PITTSBURGH, July 15, 2010 – A leading scientist in the field of cell cycle control will present this year’s Dickson Prize in Medicine Lecture at the University of Pittsburgh’s 10th annual science and technology showcase, Science2010: Transformations. Stephen J. Elledge, Ph.D., is one of the most respected and prolific researchers at work today on cell cycle regulation and cellular response to genotoxic stress, fundamental biological processes related to cell division and genetic damage and repair.

Dr. Elledge is the Gregor Mendel Professor of Genetics and Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. The lecture will begin at 11 a.m., Oct. 7, in the Connelly Ballroom in Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., on Pitt’s campus in Oakland.

Dr. Elledge is among four prominent scientists who will present plenary lectures during the two-day event, which is scheduled for Oct. 7 and 8. All Science2010 events are free and open to the public.

The Dickson Prize in Medicine, the most prestigious award presented by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, recognizes individuals who have made significant, progressive contributions to the field of medicine. Established in 1969 by the estates of Joseph Z. Dickson, M.D., and his wife, Agnes Fischer Dickson, the prize consists of a bronze medal and an award of $50,000.

Dr. Elledge’s presentation, “The DNA Damage Response: Stopped for Repairs,” is based on his investigations into the molecular mechanisms of cell cycle regulation and how cells respond to DNA damage. Also an inventor, Dr. Elledge has developed original methods to investigate the forces that propel cell division. Using these tools, he and his colleagues have been able to identify and isolate a number of genes critical to cell cycle regulation, including the cyclin-dependent kinase 2 gene (Cdk2), which controls a crucial step involved in tumor formation, and the p21 and p57 genes, members of the Cdk2-inhibitor family that have also been implicated in cancer development.

More recently, his research has focused on the cellular mechanisms underlying DNA damage detection and repair. Dr. Elledge and his colleagues have produced libraries of small interfering RNA, key components of gene activation, for use in genetic screens to identify tumor suppressor proteins involved in the development of colorectal and breast cancers.

Dr. Elledge received a Ph.D. in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine. His many honors include the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the Genetics Society of America Medal and the G.H.A. Clowes Memorial Award from the American Association for Cancer Research.

Science2010 showcases the University of Pittsburgh’s academic strengths in science, medicine, engineering and computation, and the growing potential they hold as catalysts for economic development in the region. This year’s theme, “Transformations,” emphasizes the capacity of new technology and contemporary research for driving the development of innovations in medicine and technology and for transforming those innovations into treatments that enhance quality of life.

Other plenary speakers for Science2010 are Mark B. Roth, Ph.D., a 2007 MacArthur Fellow and cell biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Patrick D. Gallagher, Ph.D., director of the National Institute for Standards and Technology; and Ann Martin Graybiel, Ph.D., Walter A. Rosenblith Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an investigator at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

The program also includes spotlight sessions presented by scientists from Pitt and Carnegie Mellon University; a technology showcase highlighting recent inventions now available for licensing; a career development workshop for emerging scientists; and various networking and social events.

Complete details about Science2010 and registration information can be found online at www.science2010.pitt.edu.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

As one of the nation’s leading academic centers for biomedical research, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine integrates advanced technology with basic science across a broad range of disciplines in a continuous quest to harness the power of new knowledge and improve the human condition. Driven mainly by the School of Medicine and its affiliates, Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1997 and now ranks fifth in the nation, according to preliminary data for fiscal year 2008. Likewise, the School of Medicine is equally committed to advancing the quality and strength of its medical and graduate education programs, for which it is recognized as an innovative leader, and to training highly skilled, compassionate clinicians and creative scientists well-equipped to engage in world-class research. The School of Medicine is the academic partner of UPMC, which has collaborated with the University to raise the standard of medical excellence in Pittsburgh and to position health care as a driving force behind the region’s economy. For more information about the School of Medicine, see www.medschool.pitt.edu.

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