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Vol. LVIII, No. 4
February 24, 2006

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Brodsky To Give Annual Pittman Lecture, Mar. 1

The roles of clathrin, an intracellular protein, in cellular communication and the immune response are the focus of this year's Margaret Pittman Lecture. It will be presented by Dr. Frances M. Brodsky, professor of biopharmaceutical sciences, immunology, microbiology and pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco. The lecture will be given Wednesday, Mar. 1 at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10.

During her talk, "Evolution of Membrane Traffic: Intelligent Design or Not?" Brodsky will examine the evolution of the clathrin protein from a structural point of view and the evolution of its cellular function,
Dr. Frances M. Brodsky  
including its role in the uptake and regulation of antigen receptors on both B cells and T cells, as well as new research examining the protein's role in muscle.

An immunologist, Brodsky has helped bridge the gap between immunology and cell biology by using monoclonal antibodies to understand and characterize clathrin. The protein's name stems from the Greek word "clathrate," meaning "basket-like," reflecting the protein's basket-like structure.

As a doctoral student at England's Oxford University, Brodsky applied the new technology of monoclonal antibodies to study human histocompatibility molecules. During postdoctoral research at both Harvard University and Stanford University, she and her colleagues produced the first clathrin monoclonal antibodies, which led to the creation of reagents that are still widely used today. Further, she and her colleagues discovered the important role clathrin plays in transporting histocompatibility molecules and their stimulation of an immune response.

Brodsky received a B.A. with honors in biochemical sciences from Harvard in 1976. In 1979, she was awarded a D.Phil. degree for her doctoral research at Oxford's genetics laboratory. After 3 years of postdoctoral research, she joined Becton Dickinson Immunocytometry Systems in California in 1982 and established her own laboratory. In 1987, she returned to academic life as an assistant professor at UCSF. She became a full professor at the university in 1994.

Brodsky has written three science-related murder mysteries under the pen name B.B. Jordan. In 2000, she and three colleagues cofounded Traffic, the international journal of intracellular transport. No stranger to NIH, Brodsky served as a member of the board of scientific counselors for NIAID from 1998 to 2004 and has participated in several ad hoc committees designed to evaluate NIH programs. She is a member of the American Association of Immunologists, the American Society for Cell Biology and the Biochemical Society of the United Kingdom and is the author of hundreds of journal and textbook articles.

The lecture honors Dr. Margaret Pittman, NIH's first female lab chief, who made significant contributions to microbiology and vaccine development, particularly in the areas of pertussis and tetanus, during her long career at NIAID.

The lecture is part of the NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series. For more information, contact Sandeep Nair at (301) 496-1921.

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