Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering scheduled for April 22 and 23

April 15, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Susan M. Gasser, director of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research and professor of molecular biology at the University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering on April 22 and 23, 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 “How Heterochromatin and BRCA1 Stabilize the Eukaryotic Genome,” at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 22, in Berg Auditorium, 100 Huck Life Sciences Building. Gasser will also give a more specialized lecture, titled “Spatial Organization of Chromatin in the Interphase Nucleus,” at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, in 104 Thomas Building.

Susan Gasser headshot

Susan M. Gasser, director of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research and professor of molecular biology at the University of Basel in Basel, Switzerland, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in Genetic Engineering on April 22 and 23, 2019, at the Penn State University Park campus.

IMAGE: Penn State

Gasser’s research primarily focuses on understanding how the organization of chromatin — the complex of DNA, RNA, and proteins that compose chromosomes — inside a cell’s nucleus affects cellular processes. She is particularly interested in the role of chromatin organization in DNA repair and epigenetic inheritance — a special case of inheritance where changes to how DNA is regulated can be passed from cell to cell, rather than changes to the genetic code itself — as cells change from one cell type to another. Gasser also studies gene silencing, the regulation of gene expression within a cell that prevents the expression of a particular gene. Gasser’s laboratory group uses live fluorescent imaging to study these questions in model organisms, including the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

Gasser is an elected member of the Académie de France, the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, and the German Academy of Sciences and an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her honors include the INSERM International Prize in 2011, the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) / EMBO Women in Science Award in 2012, the Weizmann Institute Women in Science Award in 2013, the Genetics Society of America Lee Hartwell Award in 2016, and two honorary degrees.

Gasser completed a bachelor’s degree in biophysics at the University of Chicago in 1979 and a doctoral degree in biochemistry at the University of Basel in Switzerland in 1982. She was a postdoctoral assistant at the University of Basel in 1982, an assistant professor at the University of Geneva in Switzerland from 1983 to 1986, and a group leader at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, from 1986 to 2001. In 2001, she returned to the University of Geneva as professor of molecular biology and in 2004, she moved to Basel to be the director of the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research. As of 2005, she is also professor of molecular biology at the University of Basel.

About the Marker Lectures

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.

Last Updated April 15, 2019