Stone Memorial Lecture rescheduled for April 30

April 17, 2019

Please note: The Stone Memorial lecture has been rescheduled for April 30. Updated information is below.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Zhijian ‘James’ Chen, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, professor of molecular biology, director of the Inflammation Research Center, and George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, will present the 2018/2019 Robert W. Stone Memorial Lecture at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, in 112 Buckhout Laboratory, on the Penn State University Park campus.

The free, public lecture, titled “The Enemy Within – Immune and Autoimmune Responses to Cytosolic DNA,” is sponsored by the Penn State Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

James Chen in lab coat

Zhijian ‘James’ Chen, director of the Inflammation Research Center and George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, will present the 2018/2019 Robert W. Stone Memorial Lecture on Monday, April 15, on the Penn State University Park campus.

IMAGE: Penn State

Prior to moving to Dallas, Chen was a senior scientist at ProScript Inc. where he helped discover VELCADE, a medicine that inhibits proteasomes — cellular complexes that break down proteins — used in the treatment of multiple myeloma. After joining UT Southwestern in 1997, Chen discovered the regulatory role of ubiquitination, modification of proteins by addition of the small regulatory protein ubiquitin, in the activation of the NF-kappaB and MAP protein kinase pathways. In addition, he discovered the Mitochondrial Antiviral Signaling (MAVS) protein, which revealed a new role of mitochondria in immunity. More recently, Chen discovered the integral role played by cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) in mediating an animal cell’s innate immune responses.

Chen has received numerous honors, including the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology in 2012, the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Merck Award in 2015, the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in 2018, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the world’s largest science prize, in 2019. Chen is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Chen received his bachelor’s degree from Fujian Normal University in Fuzhou, China, in 1985 and his doctoral degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo in 1991.  In 1992, he completed postdoctoral studies at Salk Institute in San Diego, California.

Each year the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology identifies a preeminent microbiologist to present her or his work, enrich the microbiological research community at Penn State, and to honor Robert W. Stone. Stone was head for 23 years of the former Department of Microbiology, which merged with the biophysics and biochemistry departments in 1979 to form the present department.

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Last Updated April 17, 2019