Special ENB Seminar with Prof. Dr. David Pellman (Harvard Medical School) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Dennis Zimmermann   
Tuesday, 08 March 2011 21:52

On March 22nd, the graduate program Protein Dynamics in Health and Disease of the Elitenetzwerk Bayern had the honor of hosting Prof. Dr. David Pellman from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute of Harvard Medical School (HMS) in Boston, U.S.A. Prof. Pellman currently is Margaret M. Dyson Professor of Pediatric Oncology and Professor of Pediatrics and Cell Biology at HMS. In 2009 he was appointed Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Prof. Pellman received several scientific awards and honors, such as the NIH Clinical Investigator Award, the BASF Bioresearch Award and the E. Mead Johnson Award.

Over the past two decades, Prof. Pellman made several groundbreaking contributions to the field of cell division and chromosome segregation. His lab uncovered multiple genes that are involved in cell division. Most notably, Prof. Pellman’s group revealed that the gene encoding for the protein Formin plays an essential role in specifically positioning the mitotic spindle by mediating the assembly of actin cables. Nowadays, Prof. Pellman’s research focuses on the investigation of the molecular mechanisms that lead to abnormal cell division and hence abnormal chromosome segregation. Such improper segregation of chromosomes favors the development of cells containing multiple sets of chromosomes (polyploidy). Prof. Pellman’s lab revealed that certain genes are essential only in polyploid cells, a genetic phenomenon called ploidy-specific lethality. Those findings brought Prof. Pellman to his current research topic of Genome Stability and the herewith-associated potential of cells to develop cancer. In this line, Prof. Pellman gave an insightful and impressive talk about how Polyploidy of cells leads to cancer and what lessons can be learnt from this in respect to effective cancer treatment.

Prof. Pellman and members of the Graduate program

Moreover, Prof. Pellman did not only visit us to give a talk but he also joined us for lunch and dinner to get to know all the students of our program. In the relaxed atmosphere of the Bavarian-style restaurant “Altes Hackerhaus”, he told us that despite all the hallmarks he has made over the years, there were of course periods of starvation (scientific-speaking), which every scientist has to face and overcome. Since Prof. Pellman is also Dircetor of Education at HMS, we also talked in more detail about the PhD-programs offered at HMS and how we could adapt some of their features to further improve our program. We felt really honored that Prof. Pellman offered to assist us in any way, for instance to install and maintain thesis committees for PhD-students of our program. The discussions with Prof. Pellman were motivating for all of us and definitely broadened our view of science.

The whole graduate program would like to again thank Prof. Pellman for his visit to Munich and for having spent the day with us.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 April 2011 20:27