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Renowned Geneticist Gerald Fink To Present Laureate Lecture At University Of Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, August 21, 2006 — Mutations in the genetic material that directs cell growth and reproduction can have effects that are wide-ranging, from advantageous to benign to harmful. Genetics pioneer Gerald R. Fink, Ph.D., a founding member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, will shed light on the influence of one category of such mutations, repeated DNA sequences, in the third installment of the 2006 Senior Vice Chancellor’s Laureate Lecture Series at the University of Pittsburgh.

The lecture, “Repeated DNA—Its Role in Virulence, Evolution and Cancer,” will take place Thursday, Sept. 7, at noon, in Auditorium 6 of Scaife Hall, 3550 Terrace St., on the university’s Oakland campus. This event is free and open to the public, with an informal reception following the presentation.

“Gerald Fink is one of the leading figures in contemporary American science, and it’s a privilege to welcome him to the university for this special event,” said Arthur S. Levine, M.D., senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. “Even those faculty, postdocs and students whose research interests differ from Dr. Fink’s share with him a common appreciation for great science, which I’m sure will come through in his presentation and which—I’m pleased to say—he’ll find being practiced here at Pitt.”

Dr. Fink’s research focuses on the molecular biology of fungal infectious disease. He developed a model system for the exploration of key pathways in cell growth and metabolism using baker’s yeast, a breakthrough that led to numerous discoveries that have advanced the understanding of gene regulation, mutation and recombination.

In addition to his current role as a member of the Whitehead Institute, where he was director from 1990 to 2001, Dr. Fink is the American Cancer Society Professor of Genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in biology from Amherst College in 1962, Dr. Fink went on to earn his doctorate in genetics from Yale University in 1965. In addition, he has received honorary doctorates from Amherst College and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Among Dr. Fink’s many awards are the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology, the Genetics Society of America’s Medal and its George W. Beadle Award, Denmark’s Emil Christian Hansen Award and the Yale Science and Engineering Award.

Dr. Fink has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In addition, he has served as president of the Genetics Society of America. He currently serves on the advisory board of the Biozentrum in Switzerland, the medical advisory board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Salk Institute board of trustees.

The fourth and final presentation in the 2006 Laureate Lecture Series will be Thursday, Nov. 9, when Carol W. Greider, Ph.D., of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, discusses the role of telomerase, an enzyme critical to DNA replication, in cancer and stem cell failure.

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