NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Early-Career Investigator To Explain Career Path, Research on Ancient Vertebrate

Dr. Jeramiah Smith
Dr. Jeramiah Smith

Pop quiz-–which organism:

  • Has a backbone but no jawbone
  • Contains two different genomes
  • Can make a full recovery after its spinal cord is severed
  • Is a culinary delicacy in some places but a predatory parasite that decimates native species elsewhere?

Okay, it’s the sea lamprey.

At the 3rd annual NIGMS Director’s Early-Career Investigator Lecture, Dr. Jeramiah Smith, an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky, will describe how his research on this organism is shedding light on cancer biology, tissue regeneration and vertebrate evolution.

Titled “Ancient Bloodsuckers, Disposable Genes and What It All Means,” the lecture takes place Tuesday, Apr. 17 at 2 p.m. in Natcher Conference Center, Balcony B.

Sea lamprey
Dr. Jeramiah Smith studies the sea lamprey. As one of the first organisms to have a backbone, the sea lamprey is considered a “living fossil.” It is also considered a delicacy in several European and Asian countries. In the Great Lakes, it is a parasitic pest that has decimated trout populations.

Photo:  Wikimedia Commons, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Open to everyone in the scientific community, the lectures are designed to introduce students at the undergraduate level and beyond to cutting-edge science while inspiring them to pursue biomedical research careers. After a 30-minute lecture, Smith will answer questions from students about his research and career path.

NIH trainees are encouraged to attend the lecture and submit questions in advance via or #ecilecture on Twitter. For details, see

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)