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Lawrence Zipursky to give Max Birnstiel Lecture

23 Apr 2018

The Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) cordially invites you to attend the talk:

“In Search of Cajal’s ‘unfathomable mystery of life’ ”

By Lawrence Zipursky
UCLA, Department of Biological Chemistry

Date: Wednesday, 25 April 2018, 11.00 a.m.
Venue: IMP Lecture Hall, Campus-Vienna-Biocenter 1, 1030 Vienna

Lawrence ‘Larry’ Zipursky and his lab have had a longstanding interest in understanding how neurons make the right connections during development of the brain. This is an essential step in producing the right wiring pattern that allows circuits to form and brains to function. For neurons to connect correctly to one another, they must present specific extracellular signals or 'labels' that have to be interpreted by other neuron types to attract or repel each other. This is relevant not only for understanding how brains form, but generally to understand how different cell types interact within tissues and organs.

The Zipursky lab has pioneered the understanding of what the molecular nature of these ‘labels’ is and how different labels are combined to produce the outstanding complexity of connections in the brain. Using Drosophila as a model system, the team discovered Dscam (Down Syndrome Cell Adhesion Molecule) a cell adhesion protein which produces roughly 36,000 different isoforms through alternative splicing. More recently, the Zipursky lab identified another superfamily of extracellular proteins (Drps and DIPs) that is involved in regulating synaptic specificity.

Overall, Larry Zipursky’s work has uncovered important principles not only in neurobiology but also in cell and molecular biology.

Lawrence Zipursky earned his M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in molecular biology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, under the supervision of Jerad Hurwitz. As a postdoctoral fellow, he joined the lab of Seymour Benzer at the California Institute of Technology. Currently, he is Distinguished Professor of Biological Chemistry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Lawrence Zipursky has received numerous honors, including the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Biology and Biochemistry from Columbia University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lawrence Zipursky is hosted at the IMP by Luisa Cochella.

About the Max Birnstiel Lectures

The Max Birnstiel Lectures are a special series of seminars at the Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna and represent the highest award that the IMP can give to outside scientists. They are named after the founding director of the institute, Max L. Birnstiel, who passed away in 2014. Each year, five to six scientists are invited to deliver one of these lectures, among them a number of Nobel Prize laureates. The Max Birnstiel Lectures attract considerable attention on campus and within the wider scientific community and invariably draw a large audience to the IMP.

Programme of the Max Birnstiel Lectures 

Videos of past Max Birnstiel Lectures