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Peter Gruss To Deliver Khoury Lecture, Sept. 17

Like all animals, we come from a single cell that develops into an embryo, which forms an adult. This progression presents us with a fundamental problem of biological organization. How can a complex organism arise out of a single cell? How can this multitude of cells be organized into the complex structures of human organs? Understanding the molecular details of the underlying genetic control processes, such as differentiation and development, is essential for our comprehension of the process.

Dr. Peter Gruss, president of Germany's Max Planck Society, will address the role of transcription factors in setting up specific cellular programs when he delivers this year's George Khoury Lecture on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. Gruss will present "From Transcription to Regenerative Medicine," which will discuss the functional significance of a class of transcription factors, Pax4 and Pax6, of the islets of Langerhans and the possibility of using these factors in the regeneration of insulin-producing beta-cells. The study of transcription factors is important since their activities can switch or modulate entire genetic programs. This understanding can help explain organogenesis and lead to the development of new therapeutic routes for tissue repair.

Dr. Peter Gruss
Gruss is an internationally distinguished researcher and lecturer. His research concentrates on the molecular mechanisms of vertebrate development. He investigates how a fertilized egg develops into a whole organism and the "choreography" necessary for embryonic development. Further, he examines which cells develop when and where, and how these cells grow into a functioning organ.

Gruss and his colleagues were able to identify genes responsible for the development of specific organs in mice. This discovery led to an increased interest in the study of eye development and pancreas development and regeneration, which are current focuses of his research.

Gruss earned his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Heidelberg. From 1978 to 1982, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow and expert consultant in the NCI Laboratory of Molecular Virology. During this time in George Khoury's laboratory, Gruss studied animal viruses and discovered critical sequences that are both required for transcriptional control and involved in the differential expressions from the origin of their cells.

As president of the Planck Society, Gruss sets guidelines for the research policy of 80 research institutes and facilities in various fields of basic science. Currently, he is also the vice-chairman of the European Developmental Biology Organization and chairman of the Council of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Gruss is also active in the federal genome research network steering committee of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

The annual Khoury Lecture is part of the NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series. For more information or for reasonable accommodation, call Hilda Madine, 594-5595.

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