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Apex Lectures

There are major inflection points in biomedical discovery that create new fields, new ideas, and new opportunities to impact human health. To recognize scientists at the pinnacle of their fields who have contributed to these inflection points, the Vanderbilt School of Medicine Basic Sciences launched the Apex Lecture Series. This school-wide seminar series, on occasion partnered with department and/or center seminar series, brings to campus scientists who are influencing the trajectory of their fields to engage with our scientific community.


Katrin Karbstein, University of Florida
Professor, Integrative Structural and Computational Biology

“Quality Control During and After Ribosome Assembly”
Tuesday, October 17, 2023 (2:00 p.m. CDT, 1220 MRB III)

Co-sponsored by the Department of Biochemistry.

Abstract: Ribosomes are major players in the protein homeostasis network. Not only are they responsible for mRNA selection and protein translation, protein folding begins inside the ribosome, and is influenced by translation. Moreover, because translation is essential for mRNA quality control, the integrity of the mRNA pool depends on the integrity of the ribosome pool. Thus, it is critical that ribosomes are correctly assembled, and maintain full functionality during their life cycle. In our lab we are studying mechanisms for quality control during assembly and translation that allow misassembled ribosomes to be detected and either degraded or repaired.

Michael Rapé, University of California, Berkeley
Professor and Head, Division of Molecular Therapeutics
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Dr. K. Peter Hirth Chair of Cancer Biology

“Stress Signaling at the Crossroads of Development and Disease”
Friday, September 29, 2023 (12:00 p.m. CDT, 202 Light Hall)

Co-sponsored by the Department of Biochemistry.  Read more!

Ivet Bahar, Stony Brook University
Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Director, Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology

“Merging Machine Learning Methods and Elastic Network Models for Modeling Protein Dynamics and Function”
Wednesday, September 20, 2023 (4:00 p.m. CDT, 214 Light Hall)
A reception will follow the lecture in the North Lobby of Light Hall.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Pharmacology & The Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence in Protein Dynamics.

Black and white headshot of John Jumper.
John Jumper, DeepMind

John Jumper, DeepMind Technologies
Senior Staff Research Scientist

“Highly Accurate Protein Structure Prediction and Its Applications”
Wednesday, August 30, 2023 (4:00 pm, 208 Light Hall)
Co-sponsored by the Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence in Protein Dynamics

Read his Nature paper, “Highly accurate protein structure prediction with AlphaFold,” here.

View Dr. Jumper’s Apex Lecture here.

Headshot of Volker Dötsch
Volker Dötsch, Goethe University

Volker Dötsch, Institute of Biophysical Chemistry, Goethe University
Professor of Biochemistry

“Mechanism of Genetic Quality Control in Germ Cells”
Monday, May 22, 2023 (4:00 pm, 1220 MRB III)
Co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Center for Structural Biology

Jason Spence, University of Michigan Medical School

Jason Spence, University of Michigan Medical School
H. Marvin Pollard Professor
Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, Internal Medicine, Biomedical Engineering

“Interrogating Stem Cell Niches During Human Development”
Monday, May 8, 2023, 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. CDT, 1220 MRBIII
Co-sponsored by the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology