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Ron Vale to give Max Birnstiel Lecture

11 Sep 2018

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

‘RNA phase separation and neurogenerative disease’
By Ron Vale
Dept. of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, UCSF

Date: Wed., 12 September 2018, 11.00 a.m.
Venue: IMP Lecture Hall, Campus-Vienna-Biocenter 1, 1030 Vienna

Among many other research topics, the Vale lab investigates the ability of RNA to undergo phase transitions in vitro and in cells. Purified RNA containing repeats above a certain length and concentration undergoes liquid-liquid phase transition and forms droplets. Expressing these repeats in cells leads to the formation of foci in the nucleus that co-localize with nuclear speckles. Depending on the repeat, the foci either resemble the more gel-like in vitro droplets or exhibit liquid-like characteristics. This is significant from both a basic science as well as a clinical perspective since the presence of nucleotide repeat expansions has been detected in a number of human diseases such as myotonic dystrophy. Work in the Vale lab addresses the question of how the observed RNA foci contribute to the pathology of these neuro-degenerative afflictions.

Ron Vale studied biology and chemistry at the University of California, Santa Barbara. For his PhD, he joined the lab of Eric Shooter at Stanford University where he pursued the question of how biomolecules are transported inside nerve cells. At the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, he studied this question in the squid giant axon and eventually discovered the motor protein kinesin. In 1986, Vale joined the UCSF faculty. Together with his team, he worked out the molecular steps that kinesin uses to convert energy into mechanical force and solved the crystal structure of the kinesin motor domain. Since then, the Vale lab has made significant contributions to the field of cell biology, including discovering katanin, characterizing dynein's function and structure, and identifying other new proteins that regulate the cytoskeleton. In 2012, Ron Vale received the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award.

Ron Vale has been invited to the IMP by Tim Clausen.

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. 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. Previous lecturers are distinguished leaders in their respective fields among them a number of Nobel Prize laureates. The Max Birnstiel Lectures attract considerable attention in 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: