The fuel of life
Martedì 13 giugno 2017, ore 10.30
Scuola Superiore di Catania
Aula Magna, Villa San Saverio
Relatore: Sir John E. Walker
Premio Nobel per la Chimica
Magnifico Rettore Università degli Studi di Catania
Presidente Scuola Superiore di Catania
Vito De Pinto
Università degli Studi di Catania
ABSTRACT: The lecture will be devoted to how the biological world supplies itself with energy to make biology work, and what medical consequences ensue when the energy supply chain in our bodies is damaged or defective. It will also explore how our recent understanding of the fundamental processes involved in harvesting and converting energy to a form used in biology contributes towards solving major problems upon which the survival of mankind may depend.
SPEAKER'S BIO: Professor Sir John Walker studied chemistry at St Catherine’s College Oxford. After spending periods of study and research abroad, first at the University of Wisconsin USA, and then at The Pasteur Institute in Paris, in 1974 he joined the laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, where he remained until 1998. Here he developed his interest in how energy in food is converted into a form that the human body can use via the molecule ATP. He also established the details of the modified genetic code of mitochondria, helped to discover overlapping genes in bacteriophages and discovered two protein sequence motifs to which his name has become attached. They are involved in binding nucleotides, and are the most abundant protein motifs in the entire biological world. His work on energy conversion led in 1994 to the determination of the atomic structure of the catalytic domain of the ATP synthase, which immediately pointed towards a mechanical rotary mechanism of coupling of energy derived from foodstuffs to the chemical synthesis of ATP. This work led to the award of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1997. He became the Director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Dunn Human Nutrition Unit in Cambridge in 1998, which became the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in 2008. He relinquished the Directorship of the Unit in January 2013. As Director Emeritus, he continues to pursue his research interests in mitochondria. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, a Foreign Member of L’Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, and of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. In 2012, he received the Copley Medal of the Royal Society, the UK’s highest scientific accolade. Previous awardees include Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Priestley, Alessandro Volta, Charles Darwin, Max Planck and Francis Crick, and, in more recent times, James Watson, Stephen Hawking and Peter Higgs.
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