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This year’s Edsall lecture will be delivered by Professor Susan M. Gasser, director of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research and professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Her talk, titled “Life without Heterochromatin:Insights into Stabilizing the Genome,” will take place on March 24 at noon.
“I am so pleased that Susan Gasser will present this year’s Edsall lecture,” said Professor Susan Mango, who will introduce the lecture. “Susan is a leader in the field of nuclear organization, from her early studies of the nuclear scaffold to her more recent analysis of the lamina.”
Dr. Gasser studied at the University of Chicago before earning her PhD at the University of Basel in 1982, where she studied mitochondrial proteins. She worked at the University of Geneva and the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research before returning to the University of Basel as a full professor in 2005. The Gasser lab in Basel currently researches topics such as the organization and silencing of heterochromatin in C. elegans development, and stability during genomic replication and repair in yeast. According to her lab’s website, Gasser has focused her research on “how nuclear organization impinges on mechanisms of repair and replication fork stability and on epigenetic inheritance of cell fate decisions.”
Dr. Gasser has been elected to several science academies, including the German Academy of Sciences, the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Academia Europaea. She is a fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and has won the National Latsis Prize, the Otto Naegeli Prize for Medical Research, and the Gregor Mendel Medal.



About the John T. Edsall Lecture

The Edsall Lecture is given annually in honor of John Edsall, a member of the faculty of Harvard University from 1928 to 1973, when he became emeritus but remained engaged in research for more than 20 years. He died in 2002 a few months short of 100 years of age. Dr. Edsall’s scientific career started in Edwin J. Cohn’s Department of Physical Chemistry at Harvard Medical School, where he studied the properties of the muscle proteins and of the amino acids. These studies among many others led to the 1943 book by Cohn and Edsall, Proteins, Amino Acids and Peptides as Ions and Dipolar Ions, which became a classic in the field of protein chemistry. During World War II he had a key role in isolating blood proteins for the war effort and developed fibrin foam, a porous form of a fibrin clot for use in neurosurgical procedures. In 1954, Dr. Edsall joined the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and moved to the Biological Laboratories, where he started research on carbonic anhydrase. He was greatly concerned with education. He was a tutor in the biochemical sciences concentration for 40 years and Head Tutor from more than 25 years. He taught a course on biophysical chemistry at the college from 1940 until he retired; the course led to the writing of a textbook with his closest scientific colleague, Jeffries Wyman.  He had a leading role in 1954 in the formation of the Committee on Higher Degrees in Biochemistry, a graduate program leading to the PhD degree in biochemistry; the committee became the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1967. Dr. Edsall was also a champion in the fight for the freedom and integrity of science.  – Guido Guidotti