A discussion of "Protein Misfolding in Aging and Neurodegenerative Disease" by Dr. Richard Morimoto, professor of biology, molecular biology and cell biology at Northwestern University, will be featured at the annual Florence S. Mahoney Lecture on Aging. The talk, on Wednesday, Mar. 21 at 3 p.m. in Masur Auditorium, Bldg. 10, is part of the NIH Director's Wednesday Afternoon Lecture Series and is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and the Office of the Director.
In order for cells to work properly, proteins that carry out vital functions need to fold into correctly shaped three-dimensional forms. This process of protein folding is common to all cells; when it goes awry, it can affect cell function and the lifespan of the organism. Only in the last decade has it become evident that protein misfolding may be at the root of many illnesses, including Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, cystic fibrosis and type 2 diabetes.
A leading investigator on protein misfolding, Morimoto is widely recognized for his seminal research on the transcriptional control of the heat shock stress response. He has recently made significant contributions to our understanding of the importance of protein quality control pathways for normal cell function using a model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans. He and colleagues at Northwestern are trying to understand how organisms sense and respond to physiologic and environmental stress. By studying the activation of genetic pathways that integrate stress responses with molecular and cellular responses that determine cell growth and cell death, he and his team hope to provide the molecular basis for protein misfolding and its consequence in neurodegenerative diseases as well as in normal aging.
Morimoto's training includes a B.S. degree from the University of Illinois in Chicago, a Ph.D. in biology from the of Chicago in 1978, and postdoctoral research at Harvard University. In 1982, he joined the faculty at Northwestern, where he is currently the Bill and Gayle Cook professor of biology, professor of biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology, and director of the Rice Institute for Biomedical Research. Morimoto's laboratory has published three monographs and two books on the heat shock response and molecular chaperones and more than 190 papers.
Morimoto has served on numerous editorial boards, the NIH molecular biology study section, the NIGMS molecular and cellular basis of disease panel and that institute's advisory board, among other activities.
A recipient of an NIH MERIT award, he has been supported by grants from NIA, NIGMS, NINDS and other sources.
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