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Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie to Speak at Clarkson University Nov. 1 & 2

[A photograph for media use is available at]

Nobel Laureate Professor Martin Chalfie will deliver the two lectures of Clarkson University’s 16th Annual Shipley Distinguished Lectureship November 1 and 2. The geneticist is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Biological Sciences at Columbia University and winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.mchalfie

Chalfie will speak about "The Importance of Nontranslational Research" on Monday, November 1, at 4:15 p.m. in Science Center Room 360. The presentation will be preceded by a 3:30 p.m. reception.

"Nontranslational" research is also known as basic research. "Translational" research translates findings in the laboratory into new treatments for medical conditions, but is also applicable to the behavioral or social sciences.

Chalfie will then present "How Do I Feel: Exploring the Molecular Basis of Touch Sensitivity" on Tuesday, November 2, at 11 a.m. in Bertrand H. Snell Hall Room 213.

The event is sponsored by the Shipley Family Foundation, with support from Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP). The public is cordially invited to attend.

Chalfie was one of three awardees of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Along with Roger Tsien at the University of California San Diego and Osamu Shimomura of Woods Hole, he was awarded the prize "for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein (GFP)," demonstrating that it could be expressed in other organisms.

Few researchers in the scientific community believed that the protein could be expressed in other organisms, but Chalfie held on to his differing opinion, believing in the promise of GFP’s potential impact on scientific research.

In 1993 and 1994, he was able to prove that GFP could indeed be expressed in two living organisms: a small roundworm, c. elegans, and the bacterium e. coli. His paper describing the uses of GFP appeared in 1994.

Since then, GFP has become a fundamental tool of cell biology, developmental biology, genetics, neurobiology and the medical sciences. GFP is also the basis of many applications in industry.

A measure of the impact of this research is that virtually no issue of any major biological journal is without an article that utilizes this protein or one of its derivatives. Scientists have since used GFP in the study of damaged cells in the process of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, genetic disorders and cancers.

Chalfie has been a professor at Columbia University since 1982. He received both his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and his Ph.D. in physiology from Harvard University.

The Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series was initiated in 1994 through a generous gift from Lucia and the late Charles Shipley through the Shipley Family Foundation. Over that period distinguished speakers from around the world, including seven Nobel Laureates -- soon to be eight--, have presented talks.

The purpose of the lectures is to promote scholarly achievements at Clarkson by providing the opportunity for idea exchange and active learning, as well as allowing undergraduate and graduate students to meet the most prestigious speakers from all over the world.

For more information about the lectures, please contact lectureship organizer Egon Matijevic, Victor K. LaMer Professor of Colloid and Surface Science, at 315-268-2392.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in six alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Martin Chalfie (Photo by Columbia University/Eileen Barroso).

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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