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Ruvkun To Give Mahoney Lecture, Dec. 3 in Masur Auditorium

Dr. Gary Ruvkun will present the Florence Mahoney Memorial Lecture on Aging on "Genetic and RNAi Analysis of C. elegans Aging" at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3 in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.

Ruvkun, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, uses molecular genetic and genomic analysis of the nematode C. elegans to study problems in aging, longevity and developmental biology. He began his work with C. elegans as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Robert Horvitz at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dr. Walter Gilbert at Harvard University, where he explored genes that control the temporal dimension of development. Thiswork led to the discovery of microRNA genes in C. elegans and the subsequent detection of microRNA genes in other species.

Dr. Gary Ruvkun
Ruvkun and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital made the important discovery that C. elegans longevity and metabolism are regulated by an insulin/insulin-like signaling pathway highly homologous to the human insulin signaling pathway. Subsequently, similar insulin-like signaling pathways regulating longevity have been discovered in Drosophila and mice. The discovery of these similar pathways in both invertebrate and mammalian species has demonstrated that disparate species have evolved using common pathways and molecular mechanisms to regulate longevity and life span. Thus, Ruvkun's elegantly characterized and genetically manipulable C. elegans model holds great promise for deciphering new components of this apparently ancient and universal regulatory mechanism.

Recently, he and colleagues used RNA interference (RNAi) methodology to survey 17,000 genes for their potential action in the regulation of C. elegans longevity and fat metabolism. This genome-wide RNAi analysis provides a global view of the potential molecular components in these key biological processes.

Ruvkun earned his A.B. degree in biophysics from the University of California at Berkeley (1973) and his Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University (1982). He has 90 publications to his credit, and has been issued two U.S. patents with three more pending. He serves on the editorial board of the journals Developmental Biology and Development. He also serves on the Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund scientific advisory board and is a member of the Max Planck Institute directors advisory committee.

He is a recipient of an NIA MERIT award for his pioneering work on the genetic and molecular basis of C. elegans longevity and aging.

A reception will follow the presentation, which is part of the NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series.

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