Steven L. McKnight to Present Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering

Steven L. McKnight, distinguished chair in basic biomedical research and the Sam G. Winstead and F. Andrew Bell distinguished chair in biochemistry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering on Sept 22 and 23 on Penn State's University Park campus. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science and will take place in the Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building.

The series includes a lecture for the general public, "Discovery of a Pro-neurogenic, Neuroprotective Chemical," at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 22. McKnight also will give a more specialized lecture, "Unique Dependence of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells on Threonine Catabolism," at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 23.

McKnight was appointed a staff member at the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1983, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 1988. While at the Carnegie Institution, his research focused on gene regulation. In 1991, McKnight left academia to co-found Tularik, a biotechnology company based in San Francisco that is devoted to the discovery of ethical drugs to treat disease via the regulation of gene expression. In 1995, McKnight moved from Tularik to University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and in 1996 he was appointed chairman of the Department of Biochemistry there. Over the past 14 years, McKnight has directed an active research laboratory and has guided the Department of Biochemistry to substantial growth in the disciplines of chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics. McKnight is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

McKnight received a doctorate in biology from the University of Virginia in 1977 and a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Texas in 1974.

The Marker Lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Penn State Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Russell Earl Marker, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker Lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences and physics.

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Last Updated September 07, 2010