Campus News Science & Technology

Nobel Prize winner to deliver Boyd Lectures at UGA

Athens, Ga. – Thomas R. Cech, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a 1989 Nobel Laureate in chemistry, will deliver the 2011 George H. Boyd Research Distinguished Lectures.

On Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 4 p.m., he will deliver a lecture planned for a general audience titled “Science for Tomorrow: Interdisciplinary Research and Interactive Education.” On Wednesday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m., he will talk more specifically about his research in a presentation titled “Crawling out of the RNA world, from Ribozymes to Telomerase.” Both lectures will be in the Mahler Auditorium of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel and are free and open to the public.

The Boyd Distinguished Lecture Series, supported by the UGA Office of the Vice President for Research and the William S. and Elizabeth K. Boyd Foundation, brings national leaders and policymakers to UGA in science, education and related fields to discuss applications of research to contemporary issues in education.

“We could not think of a more fitting speaker than Tom Cech to re-launch the Boyd Lecture Series,” said David Lee, UGA vice president for research. “Few people have achieved his impact as a researcher while making equally important contributions as a science leader and visionary.”

Cech, who served as president of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute from 2000 to 2009 and is still an active investigator at HHMI, is director of the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology. In 1982, Cech and his research group were the first to show that RNA is not simply a passive carrier of genetic information but also has active, catalytic roles. This opened the door for the development of an entirely new and important catalog of RNA tools for applications in both research and disease treatment. The Cech laboratory also is well-known for its studies of the assembly of telomeres, the structures that cap the ends of chromosomes and are critical to aging as well as cancer and perhaps other diseases.

Cech’s many honors include the Heineken Prize of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (1988), the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award (1988), the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (1989), and the National Medal of Science (1995). Cech was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1987 and has been awarded a lifetime professorship by the American Cancer Society.