April 6, 2007

Wash U’s Unanue to give Discovery Lecture

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Emil Unanue, M.D.

Wash U’s Unanue to give Discovery Lecture

Emil Unanue, M.D., renowned for his contributions to understanding how the immune system identifies and responds to invaders, will deliver the next Vanderbilt Discovery Lecture on Thursday, April 12.

Unanue, the Paul and Ellen Lacy Professor of Pathology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, will discuss the “Cellular and Biochemical Basis for Recognition of Beta Cell Antigens in Autoimmune Diabetes,” at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall. A reception in the Light Hall lobby will follow the lecture, which is free and open to the public.

In the early 1980s, Unanue and his colleagues discovered a critical component of immune system T cell activation.

They found that T cells recognize small bits of pathogens in combination with a special group of molecules known as the major histocompatibility complex, presented on the surface of antigen-presenting cells. T cells misdirected against the body's own tissues contribute to autoimmune conditions including diabetes and arthritis.

One of the current efforts in Unanue's laboratory — and the research he will discuss — is directed at autoimmune diabetes.

His group has been isolating T cell clones that produce diabetes and studying their biology and effects on pancreatic beta cells both in vivo and in vitro.

Unanue is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine. He received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Biomedical Research in 1995 and the Gairdner Foundation International Award in 2000.

For a complete schedule of the Discovery Lecture Series and archived video of previous lectures, go to www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/discoveryseries.