UC Berkeley News


Probing the complex workings of DNA
Molecular biologist Cozzarelli to describe his work in Faculty Research Lecture

15 February 2006

Nicholas Cozzarelli

On Wednesday, March 1, Nicholas Cozzarelli, professor of molecular and cell biology, will discuss "Giant Proteins That Push DNA Around: Bullies of the Nuclear Playground" as part of the campus's 93rd annual Faculty Research Lecture Series. A free event open to the public, the talk will begin at 5 p.m. at the Bancroft Hotel, 2860 Bancroft Way.

For more than three decades Cozzarelli has worked to unravel the complex workings of the DNA of chromosomes, especially the role of topoisomerase enzymes, which permit DNA to replicate in an orderly fashion. "He is considered a world leader in this area of DNA biochemistry," said his MCB colleague, Professor Randy Schekman, in announcing Cozzarelli's selection as a 2006 Research Lecturer. "He has isolated the topoisomerase enzymes, evaluated how they work at the amazing speed required by the rapid march of events in a dividing cell, and shown how drugs and antibiotics that target these enzymes work to inhibit cell growth."

Cozzarelli's research has important implications for the development of drugs to inhibit cell growth. "By revealing detailed aspects of the relevant biochemistry," Schekman noted, "Cozzarelli's work dovetails to the pharmaceutical effort to design ever-more-selective and potent drugs." He has also been a leader in efforts to promote freer access to scientific literature, and since 1995 has been editor-in-chief of the influential journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

For more than 90 years the Academic Senate has elected faculty researchers, based on their exceptionally distinguished scholarly investigations, to deliver a Faculty Research Lecture describing their work and its implications. Philosopher Barry Stroud will deliver the second of the 2006 Faculty Research Lectures, on Wednesday, March 8. See the Feb. 23 issue of the Berkeleyan for details on that engagement; visit www.urel.berkeley.edu/faculty for information on the lecture series.