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Frontier Research and Breakthrough
Issue 1 - 2018

Inspiring distinguished lectures: from plant science to novel therapies for anaemias

A series of 13 CityU Distinguished Lectures were successfully held in 2017, including the lectures by three prominent scholars in the fields of plant science, biological engineering and molecular biology. These lectures continued to inspire faculty members, students and the academic community in Hong Kong.

Professor Sir David Baulcombe, Regius Professor of Botany and Head of the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of Cambridge, delivered a lecture entitled “Non coding RNA, epigenetics and non Mendelian inheritance in plants” on 10 November.

Professor Baulcombe talked about the secondary effects of the epigenetic marks in plants may influence the expression of adjacent genes. He also discussed how RNA silencing may be particularly important following wide cross hybridisation and how it may influence hybrid vigour and transgressive segregation.

Another Distinguished Lecture was delivered by Professor Harvey F. Lodish, entitled “Self-renewal of human hematopoietic progenitor cells: Development of novel therapies for anemias”, on 13 November.

Professor Lodish is the Founding Member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Professor of Biology and Professor of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In the lecture, he explained the discovery of the role of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) agonists in stimulating self-renewal of early erythroid progenitor cells. This discovery suggests that the clinically tested PPARα agonists may improve the efficacy of corticosteroids – a drug that is used for treating erythropoietin (Epo) resistant anemias.

The last lecture in the year 2017 was held on 19 December 2017 by Professor Xuemei Chen, Professor of Plant Cell and Molecular Biology from the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. She is also a member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

In her lecture titled “Biogenesis and activities of plant microRNAs – the ‘where’ and ‘how’”, Prof Chen talked about how small RNAs being made and degraded, how miRNAs repressing target gene expression, and how miRNAs moving from cell to cell.

To view all the past CityU Distinguished Lectures details or videos, please visit here.

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