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Vol. LVII, No. 22
November 4, 2005

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Alwine To Give Khoury Lecture, Nov. 16 at Masur Auditorium

Penn's Dr. James C. Alwine will give Khoury Lecture.  

A successful viral infection requires that normal cellular functions undergo major adaptations. For example, the cell's nutrient supply, metabolism and oxygen supply and utilization must increase, whereas stress responses and apoptosis must be inhibited. It is to the virus's advantage to target master cellular regulators that may adapt several of these processes simultaneously.

This year's George Khoury Lecture will be delivered by Dr. James C. Alwine, cancer biology professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and associate director, Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He will present his talk, "How DNA Viruses Deal with Stress," on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.

Alwine's research has focused on how DNA viral infections deal with the consequences of inducing cellular stress responses. His work has shown that the viruses, especially human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), induce mechanisms that circumvent the inhibitory effects of the stress responses. During infection by HCMV and simian virus 40 (SV40), cellular stress responses are triggered due to the stress of the viral infection — for example, the greatly increased metabolic and synthetic rates needed to produce new virions. The stress responses may be induced due to nutrient deprivation, hypoxia or the induction of the unfolded protein response (UPR), a form of endoplasmic reticulum stress.

Alwine and his colleagues have shown that during infections with SV40 and especially with HCMV, the activities of cellular kinases such as PI3K/Akt, mTOR and the signaling pathways of the UPR are significantly altered to the advantage of the virus. This results in the inhibition of apoptosis and the maintenance of both global and cap-dependent translation even under conditions where stress responses are trying to inhibit them.

Alwine received his B.S. in chemistry from Elizabethtown College in 1969 and his Ph.D. in biological chemistry from Pennsylvania State University in 1974. His thesis work was done with Charles Hill working on herpes simplex virus genome structure and transcription. He then moved to the laboratory of George Stark in the biochemistry department of Stanford University where he began what would become a career-long fascination with SV40. During this period he also developed a technique for blotting and analyzing RNA which he named the Northern.

In 1977, Alwine joined George Khoury's laboratory at NIH as a staff fellow and continued his work on SV40. In 1980, he accepted an assistant professorship at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Alwine has continued his work with SV40 and has also returned to his studies of herpes viruses utilizing HCMV. At Penn, he has served as interim chair of microbiology; program director for the tumor virology program of the Abramson Cancer Center; director of the microbiology and virology program of the cell and molecular biology graduate group; and chairman of the cell and molecular biology graduate group.

Alwine has been the mentor for 16 Ph.D. students and 10 postdoctoral researchers; in 1997, he was honored with the Dean's Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching. Outside of Penn, he served as editor of Molecular and Cellular Biology for 10 years and on the editorial boards of several journals including the Journal of Virology. He has been a member of several NIH study sections and review groups. In 1994, he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

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, (301) 594-5595 or email

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