Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering scheduled for March 16 and 17

Mina J. Bissell, a distinguished scientist in the Life Sciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of comparative biochemistry at the University of California at Berkeley, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering on 16 and 17 March 2010 at the Penn State University Park campus. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

The series includes a lecture intended for a general audience, titled "The Role of Microenvironment and Tissue Architecture in Tissue Specificity and Breast Cancer," at 6 p.m. on March 16 in the Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building. Bissell also will give a more specialized lecture, titled "How Does Extracellular Matrix Signal to Direct Tissue-Specific Gene Expression?" at 11:30 a.m. on March 17, in the Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building.

Bissell's research focuses on understanding the role of microevironment and extracellular matrix (ECM) -- the part of an animal's tissue that provides structural support to its cells in addition to performing other important functions -- on the regulation of tissue-specific functions. In particular, she is interested in learning how microenvironment and ECM influence breast cancers. According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Bissell's discoveries have resulted in a paradigm shift regarding the importance of nearby healthy cells, tissues, and microenvironment in influencing the spread of cancerous tumors. The federation awarded Bissell with the 2008 Excellence in Science award.

Bissell's other honors include the Lawrence Award and medal, the Mellon Award from the University of Pittsburgh, the Eli Lilly/Clowes Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, the first "Innovator Award" for breast cancer research from the U.S. Department of Defense, the Brinker Award from the Komen Foundation, the Discovery Health Channel Medical Honor and Medal, the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center Ted Couch Lectureship and Award, the Pezcoller Foundation-American Association for Cancer Research International Award for Cancer Research, the 2007 Inserm International Annual Award, the 2008 Mina J. Bissell Award from the University of Porto, the 2008 American Cancer Society's Medal of Honor for Basic Research Award, and the 2009 Rothschild-Mayent Fellowship from the Institut Curie.

Bissell is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She served as president of the American Society of Cell Biology and the International Society of Differentiation. She has received honorary doctorates from Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris and the University of Copenhagen. She has authored more than 315 publications, is a member of seven international scientific boards, and is on the editorial board of a dozen scientific periodicals, including the journal Science.

Bissell earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at Harvard-Radcliffe College and a doctorate in bacterial genetics at Harvard University. She joined the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1972, became director of the laboratory's cell and molecular biology program in 1988, and was appointed director of the laboratory's Life Sciences Division in 1992. Upon stepping down as director of the Life Sciences Division, she was named a distinguished scientist. She is also the Office of Biological and Environmental Research/Department of Energy Distinguished Scientist Fellow in the Life Sciences.

The Marker Lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Russell Earl Marker, professor emeritus of chemistry at Penn State, 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. For more information about the lectures or for access assistance, contact Tamara Housel at 814-865-3072.

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Last Updated March 05, 2010