2017 Whitehead Symposium

Harnessing the Untapped Power of Plants for Human Health

May 6, 2017

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University Club of New York
1 West 54th St, New York, NY

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8:30 AM

Registration & Breakfast

9:00 AM


David C. Page, MD

Director, Whitehead Institute

Whitehead Institute Director Dr. David Page is a pioneer in reproductive and developmental genetics and genomics, and his renowned studies on the evolution of the Y chromosome have shaped modern understandings of reproductive health, fertility and sex disorders. His laboratory overturned the widely held theory that the Y chromosome is decaying by showing instead that it is evolving quite rapidly. Page has recently turned his attention to analyzing the differences between males and females at cellular and molecular levels. A better understanding of these differences will provide insight into sex-specific variation in disease susceptibility and severity and better inform diagnosis and treatment. Page is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and a recipient of the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology.

9:15 AM

A Personal History of Whitehead Institute

Harvey Lodish, PhD

Founding Member, Whitehead Institute

Dr. Harvey Lodish is a Founding Member of Whitehead Institute and an expert in the biology of red blood cell formation and the many diseases associated with this process, including anemias. Lodish is especially recognized for his pioneering work on erythropoietin (Epo), the hormone that controls red blood cell formation. His research has led to a variety of practical applications, including several therapies, and he has cofounded several biotechnology companies including Genzyme and Millennium. Lodish is currently studying the roles of non- coding RNAs in regulating metabolism as well as blood, fat and muscle cell development. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, he is also the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2010 Mentoring Award from the American Society of Hematology. Dr. Lodish is the lead author of the textbook Molecular Cell Biology. The eighth edition was published in April 2016 and the book has been translated into twelve languages.

9:45 AM

Beyond the Gene: Epigenetic Control of Plant Development

Mary Gehring, PhD

Member, Whitehead Institute

Dr. Mary Gehring is a Member of Whitehead Institute and an Associate Professor of Biology at MIT. Gehring’s research focuses on understanding how epigenetics—heritable information that influences cellular function but is not encoded in DNA—modulates plant growth and development. Her laboratory uses genetic, genomic, and molecular biology approaches to study epigenetics on a genome-wide scale in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. She is particularly interested in determining the function of epigenome alterations during gamete formation and reproduction. In 2011, she was named a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences and was a recipient of the Rosalind Franklin Young Investigator Award from the Genetics Society of America in 2013. The following year, Gehring was featured in Cell Press’s “40 under 40” list, and received a National Science Foundation Career Award.

10:45 AM

Plant Chemodiversity and New Nature-Inspired Medicine

Jing-Ke Weng, PhD

Member, Whitehead Institute

Dr. Jing-Ke Weng is a Member of Whitehead Institute and the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Career Development Assistant Professor of Biology at MIT. His research focuses on understanding the origin and evolution of specialized metabolism in plants. Weng is particularly interested in understanding the molecular bases of traditional herbal medicines and developing new nature-inspired therapeutics for treating various human diseases. Weng is a Pew Scholar, a Searle Scholar, a Sloan Research Fellow, and a Beckman Young Investigator. He has received the Tansley Medal for excellence in plant science and an Early Career Award from the American Association of Plant Biologists.

11:30 AM

Coffee and Conversation

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About Whitehead

Whitehead Institute is home to more than 300 scientists mentored by 16 of the world’s most accomplished principal investigators. Of these 16 faculty: 2 are National Medal of Science winners, 4 are Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigators, and 9 are members of the National Academy of Sciences. Whitehead faculty also hold joint appointments in MIT’s biology and bioengineering departments. As a fully independent not-for-profit research organization, Whitehead Institute relies significantly on philanthropy to maintain its groundbreaking research programs. Gifts from individual donors, foundations and corporations directly support Whitehead researchers as they explore the most challenging questions in biomedicine en route to solving the puzzles of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and other intractable human diseases.

Contact Us

Have any questions or would like to learn more about the 2017 Whitehead Institute Symposium? Contact:

Meg Breithaupt
(617) 258-5489

Whitehead Institute
Institutional Advancement
455 Main St
Cambridge, MA 02142

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May 6, 2017

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Thank you for registering for the 2017 Whitehead Symposium. Your registration has been successfully processed, and you should receive an email confirmation shortly.

If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Meg Breithaupt at (617) 258-5489 or at breithaupt@wi.mit.edu.