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Standing-room Crowd Turns Out for Lasker Lecture

April 12, 2017

A standing-room only crowd turned out for the April 12 Lasker Lecture in the Trent Semans Center Learning Hall to hear Dr. William Kaelin Jr., a Duke University alumnus, graduate of the Duke School of Medicine, and recipient of the prestigious 2016 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award.

A. Eugene Washington, MD, Chancellor for Health Affairs and President and CEO of Duke University Health System, welcomed Kaelin, who was introduced by Nancy M. Andrews, MD, PhD, dean of Duke University School of Medicine. [** Watch Lasker Lecture **]

Kaelin, professor in the Department of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School, spoke on "The VHL Tumor Suppressor Protein: Insights into Oxygen Sensing, Cancer Metabolism, and Drugging the Undruggable." The research seeks to understand why mutations in tumor-suppressing genes can lead to cancer. His study of VHL offered important information about the body's response to changes in oxygen levels. Kaelin also pushed students and faculty in attendance to stay focused on serving the greater good over the course of their careers.

"We feel very fortunate to partner with Dr. Kaelin and the Lasker foundation," Washington said. "The list of previous Lasker Award winners is a 'who's who list' of those who have created modern science, modern medicine, and modern health. Like the Foundation, we understand that enhancing support for research is vital to improving health in the communities we serve around the world."

Kaelin is the second Lasker Award winner in four years with Duke ties. Blake S. Wilson, known for his role in developing signal processing strategies for the cochlear implant, won in 2013. He received his undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees, from Duke in electrical engineering.

"As dean, one of my greatest pleasures has been to welcome alumni back to campus to hear about their accomplishments and honor their achievements" said Nancy C. Andrews, MD, PhD.   "It was wonderful to have Bill return to Duke again and share both his elegant science and his philosophy about science.  His talk was masterful, with many important lessons for students, scientists early in their careers, and all of us."

The Lasker Foundation's lecture series helps to advance public dialogue about the ways in which scientific questions are pursued, boost public understanding of the importance of biomedical research, and generate excitement about the challenges and promises of biomedical science. Additional information on the Lasker Foundation is available at www.laskerfoundation.org.

Earlier in the day, Kaelin visited City of Medicine Academy, a Durham magnet high school that prepares students for careers in the health sciences. Kaelin toured the campus and spoke to the student body about his experience pursuing an education, and a professional career, in the health sciences.

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