This year’s Racker lecture series, sponsored by the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, will feature Dr. Richard P. Lifton, president of Rockefeller University, where he is also Carson Family Professor and head of the Laboratory of Human Genetics and Genomics. Lifton will present two lectures discussing current research in biology and genetics. “From Mendel to Medicines: New therapeutics from genetics and genomics,” for a general audience, will take place Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. in Kennedy Hall, Call Auditorium. The second, “From Genes and Genomes to Biology and Health,” is more technically focused and will be Nov. 22 at 4 p.m., also in Call Auditorium.
The annual speaker series was established in 1992 to honor the late Efraim Racker, a Cornell professor of chemistry and a cancer researcher, who died in 1991. The lecture series brings to Cornell eminent scientists who have made important contributions in the fields of biology, chemistry and medicine.
Lifton has pioneered the use of genetics and genomics to understand fundamental mechanisms underlying human diseases. He is well-known for his discovery that mutations with large effects on human blood pressure act by altering renal salt reabsorption, discoveries that have informed public health efforts and therapeutic strategies used worldwide to prevent heart attacks and strokes, and for his development of exome sequencing for clinical diagnosis and disease gene discovery.
John T. Lis, the Barbara McClintock Professor of Molecular Biology & Genetics, said that Lifton is a brilliant scientist and lecturer. “Rick Lifton is a charismatic and insightful lecturer, and I anticipate his lectures will appeal broadly to the Cornell community,” he said.
Lifton is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, and has served on the governing councils of both organizations. He currently serves on the scientific advisory board of the Simons Foundation for Autism Research, and has previously served on the advisory council to the director of the National Institutes of Health and the scientific advisory boards of the Whitehead Institute and the Broad Institute. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the 2008 Wiley Prize and the highest scientific awards of the American Heart Association, the American Society of Nephrology, the Council for High Blood Pressure Research, the International Society for Nephrology and the International Society for Hypertension.