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Prives To Give Pittman Lecture

Dr. Carol Prives, a scientist internationally recognized for her work on the p53 tumor suppressor gene, will present the NIH Director's Margaret Pittman Lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10. The title of her talk is "Signaling to the p53 tumor suppressor protein."

Gene p53 is often referred to as the "guardian of the genome" because the protein it codes for, p53, stops cell division until damaged DNA can be repaired, thereby preventing the formation of cancerous cells. If the damage is beyond repair, p53 is also thought to initiate a cascade of biochemical reactions resulting in death of cells damaged beyond repair. Although it plays a role in preventing cancer, p53, like other genes, is itself susceptible to mutation and subsequent malfunction. In fact, mutations in the p53 gene are thought to contribute to 60 percent of all human cancer cases.

Dr. Carol Prives

Prives began studying p53 in 1989. In 1991 together with Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University, she was the first to show that p53 binds to a specific sequence of DNA. Prives and her coworkers are currently investigating the chemical mechanisms that signal the cell to produce p53 when DNA is damaged as well as the mechanisms that shut down cell division and result in cell death when large amounts of p53 are produced.

Prives was born in Montreal, and received her B.S. and Ph.D. degrees at McGill University. She undertook postdoctoral research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the laboratory of Dr. J.T. August, from 1968 to 1971. She then went to the Weizmann Institute in Israel on a senior visiting fellowship and was eventually promoted to associate professor with tenure. In 1979 she took a position as associate professor in the department of biological sciences at Columbia University, where she was promoted to professor in 1987. In 1995 she was appointed the DaCosta professor of biology at Columbia.

The lecture series honors Dr. Margaret Pittman, who was named, in 1958, chief of the Laboratory of Bacterial Products in the Division of Biological Standards, which was part of NIH at the time. Pittman is recognized for her significant contributions to microbiology, including devising serological typing methods for identifying Hemophilus and her work on the development of pertussis and tetanus toxin vaccines. She was also the first woman to hold the position of lab chief at NIH.

For more information or for reasonable accommodation, call Hilda Madine, 594-5595.

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