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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Organizers of upcoming URI international pharmacy conference say there is still time to register

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee, 401-874-5862

Nobel prize winner among more than 30 renowned researchers from around the world to speak

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 19, 2012 – The organizers of a University of Rhode Island global pharmaceutical sciences conference say there is still time to register for the event that runs from Sept. 28 through 30 at the Kingston campus.

Registration is required and full details about the conference can be found at http://www.uri.edu/pharmacy/frontiers/2012/index.html. The program is the last in a series of programs this month commemorating the opening of the new URI College of Pharmacy building, a $75 million facility supported primarily by Rhode Islanders.

Thomas Steitz, the Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and professor of chemistry at Yale University, will speak Sunday, Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. Steitz, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009 with two other scientists, is also an investigator at Yale’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“We anticipate a lively three days with some of the top biomedical scientists in the world,” said conference co-organizer, Keykavous Parang, URI professor of medicinal chemistry and pharmacology. “We want the scientific community to know there is still time to register and be a participant in this first-of-its kind program at URI. Come meet other scientists, listen to talks about the latest developments in biomedical research and relax in our beautiful surroundings.”

Conference co-organizer Navindra Seeram, URI assistant professor of biomedical and pharmaceutical sciences and director of the Bioactive Botanical Research Laboratory, said he believes this will be the largest conference of its kind in the history of the University.

“The Northeast Corridor of the United States is the center of pharmaceutical science research and industry, and so this is an ideal location for a program of this type,” Seeram said. “The participation of some of the world’s leading biomedical scientists, including Yale’s Professor Steitz, is an indication of the high regard they have for research going on at URI’s College of Pharmacy and, indeed, the ongoing scientific work of many of our colleges.”

The program will focus on the latest in bench drug discovery (natural products, medicinal chemistry and biologics) and drug development stages (delivery, nanotechnology, toxicology, clinical pharmacology, drug metabolism, transporters and pharmacokinetics).

Other keynote speakers will be: Chad A. Mirkin, professor of materials science and engineering and director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University; Tej P. Singh, professor of biophysics at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences; Jhillu Singh Yadav, director of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology; and Christopher Walsh, the Hamilton Kuhn Professor of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. In addition, leading researchers from Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom will all speak.

Steitz’s talk is titled “From the Structure and Function of the Ribosome to New Antibiotics.” A ribosome is a small particle containing ribonucleic acid in a cell that is a site for protein synthesis.

Steitz’s short biographical sketch hardly does justice to a man who links his public school shop classes and his brother’s academic excellence to his great successes in the laboratory.

In addition to the Nobel Prize in 2009, Steitz was presented the Gairdner International Award in 2007, Keio Medical Science Prize in 2006, the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize in 2001, the Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research in 2001, and the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry in 1980. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1990.

A faculty member at Yale since 1970, Steitz was a Fairchild Scholar at the California Institute of Technology from 1984 to 1985 and a Macy Fellow in Gottingen, Germany, from 1976 to 1977. He earned his doctorate at Harvard University in 1966.