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Timothy J. Mitchison, PhD
How Does a Frog Egg Solve Geometry Problems?
Hasib Sabbagh Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, VA 24016
A public reception will precede this event in the VTC Cafe at 4:30 p.m.
One of the big challenges in biology is to understand how cells are physically organized by molecules, which are much smaller than the cell. This challenge is epitomized by frog eggs, which are enormous compared to most cells. After fertilization, frog eggs cleave in the middle, and then cleave again at right angles, on their way to becoming embryos. The question of how these cleavage planes are accurately positioned has interested biologists for 200 years. We have studied this problem using microscopy and biochemistry in frog and fish eggs, and in cell free extracts made from frog eggs. The answers lie in the behavior of starburst-like arrays of microtubules called asters, and in how they grow and interact inside the egg.
About the Speaker:
Timothy Mitchison, PhD, is the Hasib Sabbagh Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, where he also serves as deputy chair of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Systems Biology. Dr. Mitchison chairs the steering committee for ICCB-Longwood, Harvard Medical School’s facility for high-throughput screening of RNAi and small molecule libraries.
Dr. Mitchison earned an undergraduate degree in biochemistry from Merton College at the University of Oxford and a doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics from the University of California, San Francisco.
For more than 20 years, Dr. Mitchison has worked on the mechanism of cell division, and has made major discoveries on how the mitotic spindle is built and how chromosomes move. He is also an expert in drug discovery. For seven years, he led the Harvard Institute for Chemistry and Cell Biology, where he focused on the discovery of new drugs that block cell division and the development of new technologies for drug discovery, notably automated microscopy.