Roger David Kornberg, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in chemistry, to speak May 20

Credit: Amélie Philibert

In 5 seconds

Members of the Quebec scientific community are invited to watch an online lecture on chromosomes by the esteemed American scientist, best known for uncovering the mechanics of RNA synthesis.

On the morning of May 20, Université de Montréal will host the renowned American biochemist Roger David Kornberg, who will give an online lecture entitled “Chromosome Structure and Transcription.”

His talk will begin at 8:25 a.m., will be in English, and will be followed by a Q&A. No registration is required, but the meeting is limited to 500 people.

A professor at Stanford University, in 2006 Dr. Kornberg received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his contribution to understanding how living organisms function: he uncovered the mechanics of RNA synthesis – specifically, how information from genes is copied into RNA.

Dr. Kornberg was able to deduce – and show in images – the structure of an enzyme called RNA polymerase, which makes it possible to manufacture RNA from a given DNA. He “was the first to create an actual picture of how transcription works at a molecular level.”

In his career, Dr. Kornberg followed in the path of his parents, both biochemists. In 1959, his father, Arthur Kornberg, was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for discovering the biological mechanism of DNA synthesis.

'A good motivator for students'

It was at the invitation of UdeM medical professor Alain Verreault, ascientist at the university’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), that Dr. Kornberg agreed to give his upcoming talk.

“The pandemic had been going on for over a year, and thought getting a high-level speaker to come here would be a good motivator for my students,” said Verreault, who a professor in the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology.

“So I contacted Dr Kornberg last December and he quickly said yes.”

The two were no strangers. “I’ve met him a few times over the course of his career,” said Verreault. “I first got to know him  indirectly through my thesis supervisor, who worked with him in the 1970s.

“At the time, I was a student at the University of Cambridge University and Dr. Kornberg would occasionally come and give lectures there.”

An extraordinary career

Dr. Kornberg’s lecture on chromosomes should be of special interest to Quebec professors and students doing basic research in the fields of biochemistry, cell biology and genetics.

“It will be a chance to hear from a researcher who’s had an extraordinary career – a scientist and professor who has made a number of discoveries,” said Verreault. “It's not every day that we get someone so important whose work in fundamental research has been  revolutionary.”

For Marie-Josée Hébert, UdeM’s vice-rector of research, discovery, creation and innovation, Dr. Kornberg’s story is inspirational.

“It reminds us of the extent to which fundamental research – patient, determined and rigorous  research – can lead to significant breakthroughs that can transform a vast field of study and application,” she said.

“I am delighted that this inspiring conference will be open to the scientific community throughout Quebec."

Mark your calendar

What: “Chromosome structure and transcription,” a lecture by Roger D. Kornberg, 2006 Nobel Prize in chemistry

When: May 20 starting at 8:25 am

For: The Quebec scientific community

Where : Zoom
Webinar ID: 881 9127 3663
Password: 575216

The event will be held in English. No registration is required, but the meeting is limited to 500 people. Dr. Kornberg will take questions from the audience at the end of his presentation. Afterwards, he will hold an informal discussion with students and post-doctoral researchers who choose to stay.

On the same subject

research biochemistry international