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UCSF’s Vale set to explore mechanisms of biological motility

Jan. 23, 2014, 9:40 AM

Ron Vale, Ph.D., Lasker Award winner and co-discoverer of the molecular “motor” kinesin, will give the next Flexner Discovery Lecture at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 30, in 208 Light Hall.

Ron Vale, Ph.D.

Vale, professor and vice chair of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), will discuss “Mechanisms of Biological Motility,” and, in particular, the microtubule motor dynein.

His lecture is sponsored by the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology as a CDB Distinguished Speaker Seminar.

As a graduate student working at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass., in the mid-1980s, Vale helped discover kinesin, a class of proteins that move along cytoskeletal filaments to transport large cellular “cargo,” among other functions.

In 2012, he and colleagues received the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for this discovery.

Vale earned his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University in 1985, and joined the UCSF faculty the next year. Recently he has studied dynein, which is much larger than kinesin and much less well understood.

A Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, Vale is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the European Molecular Biology Organization.

He established a science education website at UCSF now called, co-founded and serves on the scientific advisory board of Cytokinetics Inc., and is former president of the American Society of Cell Biology.

For a complete schedule of the Flexner Discovery Lecture series and archived video of previous lectures, go to

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