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Seminars, Colloquia, and Symposia

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MCB is a vibrant, interactive scientific community and an exceptionally stimulating intellectual environment. The MCB Department was established to recognize the seamless interconnectedness between what were formerly considered disparate branches of biology and thereby to modernize training in these subjects. To further promote cutting-edge research in these areas, each Division of the MCB Department., the MCB Department itself, and other science depts. on campus sponsor an extensive and varied series of weekly seminars in which visiting scientists from around the world discuss their current research. In addition to these weekly colloquia, the MCB Department sponsors other events; especially a number of named lectureships that bring exceptionally distinguished scientists from across the globe to speak on our campus.   

Weekly MCB Seminars

  • Mondays, 4:00 PM— Structural, Chemical & Quantitative Biology seminar series (co-sponsored by the Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology Division of MCB jointly with the Dept. of Chemistry)
  • Tuesdays, 12:30 PM— Immunology & Pathogenesis seminar series (sponsored by the Immunology and Pathogenesis Division of MCB)
  • Wednesdays, 12:00 N— Microbiology seminar series (co-sponsored by the Depts. of Plant and Microbial Biology and MCB, and the Wheeler Center for Emerging and Neglected Diseases)
  • Wednesdays, 4:00 PM— BBS-CDB-GGD seminar series (sponsored by the Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology, and Genetics, Genomics and Development Divisions of MCB)
  • Thursdays, 4:00 PM— Neurobiology seminar series (co-sponsored by the Neurobiology Division of MCB and the Helen Wills Neurosciences Institute)

Named MCB Lectureships

  • The Chiron Lectures

Initially established as the Smith Kline & French Lectureship in 1974, it became the Chiron Lectureship in 1985.   This series is generally focused on topics in biochemistry and molecular biology.  Many Nobel Laureates have been speakers in this series, including Arthur Kornberg, Gerald Edelman, Sydney Brenner, Walter Gilbert, George Palade, Aaron Klug, Michael S. Brown and Joseph Goldstein, Richard Axel, Phillip Sharp, and Thomas Steitz, as well as many other distinguished scientists. 

  • The Choh Hao Li Lectures

Established in 1990, this lectureship commemorates the contributions of the late Professor C.H. Li, who discovered seven of the eight major peptide hormones produced by the pituitary while he was a faculty member here at UC Berkeley. This series is generally focused on cell signaling, molecular endocrinology, and related aspects of cell biology.  The inaugural lecturer was National Medal of Science winner Robert J. Lefkowitz, followed by Nobel Laureate Alfred G. Gilman, and subsequently by many other outstanding investigators. 

  • The Marian E. Koshland Lectures

Initially established as the Merck Student-Sponsored Lectures, this series was renamed to honor the scientific and educational contributions of the late UC Berkeley Professor Marian E. Koshland and funded by generous contributions made to the MCB Dept. in her memory.  Speakers in this series range over all of the disciplinary areas represented in the MCB Dept. The speakers in this series are selected solely by the MCB graduate students and the schedule for each visitor is organized solely by the MCB graduate students. The invited scientists get together with groups of students for extended discussions over meals and prior to the formal presentation. 

  • The Novartis Lectures

This special lecture series was established through the generosity of Novartis AG, which has a major research facility located in a municipality (Emeryville, CA) juxtaposed to the City of Berkeley. The mission of this series is to foster interest in tumor biology and anti-cancer therapeutics. This series was initiated by Nobel Laureate Carol W. Greider (Ph.D., UC Berkeley, 1987), followed by John Condeelis, Craig B. Thompson, Tyler Jacks, and Fred Alt.

  • The Stanier Lectures

This lectureship was established to honor the late Roger Y. Stanier, who made numerous fundamental contributions to categorizing and characterizing prokaryotic microorganisms while he was a faculty member here at UC Berkeley.  This series, which generally alternates every other year with a presentation at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, is instrumental in bringing outstanding microbiologists to our campus to discuss their recent research.  The first speaker was Nobel Laureate Salvador Luria, who has been followed by such outstanding microbiologists as Carl Woese, Stanley Falkow, Jonathan Beckwith, and Richard Losick.

  • The Wilson Lectures

Initially established as the Cetus Lectureship, it was renamed the Wilson Lectureship to honor the late UC Berkeley Professor Allan C. Wilson, who pioneered molecular and biochemical analysis of evolutionary processes. This series is generally focused on molecular evolution and related aspects of biology. Speakers in this series have included many Nobel Laureates, such as Howard Temin, Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard, and Paul Nurse. 

Other Events

  • The CDB Spring Symposium

In March of every year, the CDB Division of MCB sponsors a day-long Spring Symposium on various topics in modern cellular and molecular biology presented by a roster of outstanding speakers.  Prior symposium topics have included molecular systems biology, microRNAs and other non-coding RNAs, and tissue regulation.

  • The Annual Advanced Imaging Methods Workshop

In January of each year, the Molecular Imaging Center of the Cancer Research Laboratory, a campus Organized Research Unit operated by MCB, and the Biological Imaging Facility of the College of Natural Resources, with the support of several commercial partners, sponsors a 2-1/2-day long symposium and workshop on the latest methods and instrumentation for microscopy and the imaging of biomolecules, cells and other biological specimens.

  • The Hitchcock Lectures

The Graduate Council, a campus-wide committee of the Graduate Division, selects and arranges speakers for the annual Charles M. and Martha Hitchcock Lectures. By mandate of the Hitchcocks' bequest, these lectures are focused on the sciences (in particular, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and physics). They have brought world-renowned scientists to our campus from around the globe. Past speakers in the biological science have included Nobel Laureate Sidney Altman (2010), Lucille Shapiro (2009), and Sir John Gurdon (2006).

  • The Berkeley Stem Cell Center Lectures

Periodically throughout each academic year, the Berkeley Stem Cell Center, as part of the training program supported by the State of California-funded California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), invites distinguished researchers in the stem cell field to present their current research.

  • Evolution and Development Day

Each year the community of laboratories on the Berkeley campus at the interface of evolution and development, especially in MCB and in Integrative Biology (IB), one of our sister depts., sponsors a day-long mini-symposium by both local and invited speakers to foster new and productive interactions that promote research in evolution and development.

  • Seminars and Named Lectureships in Affiliated Departments 

Other sister departments have named lectureships that draw exciting speakers in the biological sciences to our campus, such as the Andrew Braisted Lecture (focus is on chemical biology) and the Cynthia Ann Chan Memorial Lecture (focus is on biophysical chemistry) in our Dept. of Chemistry, and the Doris Calloway and Samuel Lipovsky Memorial Lectures (focus is on human metabolic biochemistry and physiology) in our Dept. of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology. Likewise, there are frequently seminars of interest to MCB faculty and students sponsored by our Depts. of Bioengineering, Integrative Biology, Plant and Microbial Biology, Physics, the Infectious Diseases Program of our Sch. of Public Health, and the Life Sciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (a Federal research facility situated in the hills immediately above our campus).

  • Journal Clubs, Super-Groups, and Postdoc Forums 

Most laboratories hold monthly (or more frequent) informal gatherings of various sorts to share ideas and information over refreshments. Many groups meet in journal clubs to discuss recent advances in the research literature with other research teams with kindred interests. Likewise, many groups meet periodically with several others to constitute "super-groups" at which graduate students and postdocs present their work to a receptive group for constructive feedback.  Currently, in MCB, long-standing Super-Groups in Yeast Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics, in Structural Biology, in Membrane Biology, and in Developmental Biology meet once a month. Similarly, postdocs in the laboratories of faculty affiliated with the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences at Berkeley (QB3-Berkeley) meet periodically to network and present their work to each other; and, the QB3 faculty do the same at a bi-monthly luncheon.