Schekman to Deliver March 31 Faculty Research Lecture
By Julia Sommer, Public Affairs
Randy Schekman, co-chair of molecular and cell biology, will give the second 1999 faculty research lecture March 31 at 5:30 p.m. in Wheeler Auditorium.
He will talk on "Budding Yeast and the Brain," explaining some of the fundamental similarities between nerve cells in the brain and the lowly yeast cell.
"The machinery that allows transmission across the synapse between two nerve cells is fundamentally the same process that allows a yeast cell to grow," he says.
Yeast have become important in the pharmaceutical industry because it's easy to get them to make and secrete medically useful proteins, says Schekman.
The first and still only genetically engineered vaccine is made by yeast cells that have been forced to produce the hepatitis virus coat protein. One quarter of the world's supply of recombinant human insulin also is produced by yeast, notes Schekman.
Much of the basis for these applications was provided by Schekman's research revealing how yeasts secrete proteins and other chemicals.
A 1970 graduate of UCLA, Schekman completed his PhD with Arthur Kornberg at Stanford and then was a postdoc with S.J. Singer at UCSD. He joined Berkeley's Department of Biochemistry in 1976.
Schekman headed the Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from 1990 to 1994 and was appointed an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1991. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1992.
He received the Eli Lilly Award in Microbiology and Immunology in 1987, the Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award in Basic Biomedical Science in 1994, the Gairdner International Award in 1996 and an honorary doctorate from the University of Geneva in 1997.
Currently Schekman is editor of the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology, an associate editor of The Journal of Cell Biology and The Molecular Biology of the Cell. He serves as president of the American Society for Cell Biology.