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NIH Record

Pawson Gives NIH Lecture, Feb. 4

By Laurent Castellucci

On the Front Page...
Signal transduction -- how cells translate external signals into internal effects -- is a major element in the regulation of many aspects of cellular behavior. Dr. Anthony J. Pawson has been at the forefront of elucidating the mechanistic basis of the protein-protein interactions so essential to this process, opening a window on what happens within the cell itself to produce the final result in reaction to an external signal. In a talk entitled, "Protein Modules in Signal Transduction," Pawson, head of the Programme in Molecular Biology and Cancer at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, and professor in the department of molecular and medical genetics of the University of Toronto, will present an NIH Director's Lecture at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4, in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.


Dr. Anthony J. Pawson

Pawson's research has helped demonstrate the importance of recurring structures, or modules, in proteins. These modules perform similar functions in different proteins, offering scientists insight into how permutations of the same basic process can be used to control many cell functions. His work has helped demonstrate how modular domains apparently control protein-protein and protein-phospholipid interactions involved in regulating cell behavior. In particular, Pawson's identification of the Src homology 2 (SH2) domain, a characteristic protein module present in tyrosine kinase targets, brought scientists a new way of piercing the mysteries of how cells react to external signals influencing cell growth and movement and opened wide new avenues of investigation into both normal and diseased cells.

The importance of intracellular signaling pathways and their active role in regulation of many cell behaviors make them attractive targets for therapeutic intervention. The manipulation of signaling pathways through protein modules may have many clinical applications as these processes become more understood.

Pawson received a B.A. in biochemistry from Cambridge University in 1973 and a Ph.D. from London University in 1976. His early work centered on identification of the biochemical mechanisms by which oncogenic retroviruses induce the malignant state. This work led him to identification of the SH2 protein module, and his focus on the study of intracellular signaling. The author of more than 200 peer-reviewed papers, he has received numerous awards. He is a Terry Fox Cancer Research Scientist of the National Cancer Institute of Canada, holds the Apotex chair in molecular oncology, and is an international research scholar of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Pawson received a Gairdner Foundation International Award in 1994, among other prizes, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of London and of the Royal Society of Canada.

The lecture is a part of the NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series. All NIH'ers are invited to attend. For more information, call Hilda Madine, 594-5595.

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