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Symposium to honor microbiologist Sol Spiegelman, present new work in biological sciences


In honor of University of Illinois microbiologist Sol Spiegelman and his work in recombinant DNA technology, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology is hosting the symposium "The Enduring Legacy of Sol Spiegelman" from October 20-22, 2017. The symposium will feature a public lecture and a series of plenary talks.

The national panel of speakers, including two Nobel Laureates, represents diverse disciplines such as microbiology, biochemistry, cellular and development biology, neuroscience, and biomolecular engineering, and will present on current and future work in their respective fields.

The symposium, set to be held at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on the campus of the University of Illinois, will start with a public lecture on Friday, the evening of October 20. Entitled "Biocatalysts for a Biological Chemistry: Evolution Brings New Chemistry to Life," the talk will be delivered by Frances H. Arnold, Dick and Barbara Dickinson Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry at the California Institute of Technology.

Sol Spiegelman (1914-1983) was a molecular biologist at the University of Illinois who improved a technique that allowed the detection of specific RNA and DNA molecules in cells, a combination of viral DNA and viral RNA which helped pave the way for recombinant DNA technology advances. He is well-known for his experimentation with self-reproducing RNA structures, commonly referred to as "Spiegelman's Monster."

Distinguished speakers at the symposium include:

  • Richard Axel, Nobel Laureate, University Professor, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, of Neuroscience, and of Pathology, Columbia University
  • George Georgiou, Professor of Chemical Engineering, of Biomedical Engineering, and of Molecular Biosciences, University of Texas at Austin
  • Larry Gold, Chairman and Founder, SomaLogic, Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Leroy E. Hood, President and Co-founder, Institute for Systems Biology
  • Clyde Hutchison, Distinguished Investigator, The J. Craig Venter Institute, Professor Emeritus of Microbiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • David Liu, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University
  • Susan Martinis, Professor and Head, Departments of Biochemistry and Medical Biochemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Olgica Milenkovic, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty Affiliate, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Pamela Silver, Elliot T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School
  • Joan Steitz, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale School of Medicine
  • Jack Szostak, Nobel Laureate, Professor of Genetics, and of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard Medical School
  • Rachel Whitaker, Associate Professor of Microbiology, Infection Genomics for One Health Research Theme Leader, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Feng Zhang, James and Patricia Poitras Professor in Neuroscience, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Huimin Zhao, Centennial Endowed Chair, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Biosystems Design Research Theme Leader, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


For more information about the symposium, and to register, please visit: Registration is free and open to the public.

The Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology is an interdisciplinary research facility at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, advancing life sciences research related to health, agriculture, energy and the environment. Learn more at

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