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Oldstone To Deliver Dyer Lecture, Sept. 13

By Karen Leighty

Dr. Michael B.A. Oldstone will deliver the Sept. 13 Dyer Lecture, titled "How Viruses Suppress the Immune System: Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms and Consequences," at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. Oldstone, who has made seminal contributions to this field, serves as professor and director of the viral-immunobiology laboratory at the Scripps Research Institute.

Oldstone's early work showed that the host could make an immune response to a persistent viral infection. That immune response, he went on to find, causes tissue damage and disease. These original observations, made first with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, now have been extended to several other disease-causing viruses.

Dr. Michael B.A. Oldstone

Building on this work, he demonstrated that immune responses to viruses can recognize amino acid sequences similar to those found in host cell proteins, a phenomenon known as molecular mimicry. Under certain circumstances, these antiviral immune responses result in disease.

He also discovered that persistent viral infections can cause disease by changing the differentiation or "luxury" functions of cells without destroying them. Such changes tip the balance of homeostasis and can cause disease in the nervous and endocrine systems, among others. Oldstone also was one of the first to show mechanistically how viruses can suppress immunologic surveillance.

In his most recent studies, he successfully isolated and identified the host cell receptors used by certain persistent viruses to enter cells. Such viruses have evolved a selective pressure to abort antiviral immune T-cell responses, thus allowing their persistence.

The fruits of such work have resulted in his election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous awards, including the J. Allyn Taylor International Prize in Medicine for his work in virus-host interactions; the Biomedical Science Award from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, for contributions in autoimmunity and the concept of molecular mimicry; the Abraham Flexner Award for Contributions in Biomedical Research; the Rous-Whipple Award for Research Excellence in Investigative Pathology; and the Cotzias Award for Research Excellence in Nervous System Disease.

This lecture is an NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series event. No registration is required. The audience is invited to a reception following the talk. For more information or special accommodation, call Hilda Madine at 594-5595.

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