February 25, 2020
Building 10, Clinical Center, Lipsett Auditorium
Marshall W. Nirenberg Lecture
The NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series, colloquially known as WALS, is the highest-profile lecture program at the NIH. Lectures occur on most Wednesdays from September through June from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Building 10 on the NIH Bethesda campus.
Each season includes some of the biggest names in biomedical and behavioral research. The goal of the WALS is to keep NIH researchers abreast of the latest and most important research in the United States and beyond. An added treat is the annual J. Edward Rall Cultural Lecture, which features top authors and other cultural icons. All speakers are nominated by the NIH community.
Speaker: Frances Arnold, Ph.D.
Not satisfied with nature’s vast catalyst repertoire, we want to create new protein catalysts and expand the space of genetically encoded enzyme functions. I will describe how we can use the most powerful biological design process, evolution, to optimize existing enzymes and invent new ones, thereby circumventing our profound ignorance of how sequence encodes function. Using mechanistic understanding and mimicking nature’s evolutionary processes, we can generate whole new enzyme families that catalyze synthetically important reactions not known in biology. Recent successes include selective carbene insertion to form C-Si and C-B bonds, and alkyne cyclopropanation to make highly strained carbocycles, all in living cells. Extending the capabilities and uncovering the mechanisms of these new enzymes derived from natural iron-heme proteins provides a basis for discovering new biocatalysts for increasingly challenging reactions. These new capabilities increase the scope of molecules and materials we can build using synthetic biology and move us closer to a sustainable world where chemical synthesis can be fully programmed in DNA.
This lecture will be followed by a reception in the NIH Library. Special thanks to the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences (FAES) for its support of the weekly reception. FAES is proud to co-sponsor with the NIH in hosting the Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series.
To watch the WALS lecture online, visit http://videocast.nih.gov. Registration is not required; seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Fire regulations require that every person in Masur Auditorium must have a seat. Standing in the aisles or in the back of the auditorium is not permitted. Sign language interpreters can be provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate in this event should contact Jacqueline Roberts, Jacqueline.Roberts@nih.gov, 301-594-6747, or the Federal Relay, 800-877-8339.