Herbert Memorial Lecture

The Herbert Memorial Story

vollum_edherbert_nasThe Herbert Memorial Lecture is given annually in honor of the Vollum's founding director, Edward Herbert. This event is sponsored by Cell Signaling Technology, which is directed by Michael Comb, a former Herbert graduate student. Each year, an outstanding scientist is invited to engage in discussion and fellowship with Vollum faculty and students, as well as to give an open talk to the university. Invited speakers embody the values of thorough, far-reaching, and elegant scientific investigations, for which Dr. Herbert was well known. They include Nobel Laureates Rod MacKinnon, Phillip Sharp, Erwin Neher, and Richard Axel.

The Vollum Institute has fulfilled its founders' aspirations by becoming a world-class neuroscience research institute that stands today as a testimony to his vision.

Dr. Herbert was posthumously elected to the National Academy of Sciences after his death on February 19, 1987.

Download Dr. Herbert's obituary (124 KB) written by John Adelman for the NAS.

Xiaowei Zhuang: 2016 Herbert Memorial Lecturer

Xiaowei Zhuang, PhD
Photo courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

After receiving her Bachelor of Science from the University of Science and Technology of China, Xiaowei Zhuang did her graduate work at the University of California at Berkeley and her postdoctoral studies at Stanford University. In 2001, Zhuang took a faculty position in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Department of Physics at Harvard University, and in 2005 she became an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 2014, Zhuang was appointed the David B. Arnold Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard.

Dr. Zhuang has received numerous prestigious awards and honors. Among them, she has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology, and she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

The Zhuang research lab works on the forefront of single-molecule biology and bioimaging, developing and applying advanced optical imaging techniques, in particular single-molecule and superresolution imaging methods, to study the behavior of individual biological molecules and molecular assemblies in vitro and in live cells. Zhuang invented a superresolution imaging method, STORM, which overcomes the diffraction limit using switching and localization of single fluorescent molecules. She continues to push the envelope of superresolution imaging by increasing the spatiotemporal resolution and enabling in vivo imaging. Recently, she invented a multiplexed, error-robust fluorescence in situ hybridization (MERFISH) method for transcriptome imaging. Zhang applies these methods to investigating a variety of biological problems, including the molecular structures inside neurons and neuronal connectivity in circuits, the three-dimensional organization of chromatin and chromosomes in the nucleus, and the regulation of gene expression.

Learn more about Xiaowei Zhuang's current research at Harvard

Past Herbert Memorial Speakers


Illuminating biology at the nanoscale with single-molecule and super-resolution imaging
Xiaowei Zhuang, Ph.D.
HHMI, Harvard University


TRP channels of the pain pathway: Connecting physiology to atomic structure
David Julius, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco


Phosphoinositide signaling in the control of membrane dynamics and interactions
Pietro DeCamilli, M.D.
HHMI, Yale University School of Medicine


Modulating the gain of channels, cascades, and circuits
Richard Tsien, Ph.D.
New York University Langone Medical Center


Novel neural messengers of life and death
Solomon H. Snyder, M.D.
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine


Information processing and integration of the basal ganglia
Shigetada Nakanishi, M.D., Ph.D.
Osaka Bioscience Institute


The emergence and function of spinal motor circuits
Thomas Jessell, Ph.D.
HHMI, Columbia University Medical Center


Making an Effort to Listen: Mechanical Amplification by Myosin Molecules and Ion Channels in Hair Cells of the Inner Ear
A. James Hudspeth, M.D., Ph.D.
The Rockefeller University


Watching the Brain Compute and Tracing Its Wires: New Methods to Solve Old Riddles
Winfried Denk, Ph.D.
Max-Planck Institute for Medical Research


An Rb/E2F/DP Complex and Chromatin Remodeling Antagonize a Ras Pathway during C. elegans Vulva Development
Robert Horvitz, Ph.D.
HHMI, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Oxygen Sensation: Unconventional Signaling for an Unconventional Sense
Cori Bargmann, Ph.D.
HHMI, The Rockefeller University


The Atomic Basis of Selective Ion Conduction in Potassium Channels
Rod MacKinnon, M.D.
HHMI, The Rockefeller University


RNA Splicing and RNA Interference
Phillip A. Sharp, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Ca2+ Signals Controlling Neurotransmitter Release and Short Term Synaptic Plasticity
Erwin Neher, Ph.D.
Max-Planck Institut für Biophysikalische Chemie


The Return of the Human Genome
Sydney Brenner, Ph.D.
Molecular Sciences Institute, Inc.


The Molecular Biology of Smell
Richard Axel, M.D.
HHMI, Columbia University


Potassium Channel Regulation
Lily Jan, Ph.D.
HHMI, University of California, San Francisco


Trimeric G Proteins: Structure and Function
Henry Bourne, M.D.
University of California, San Francisco


ARIA: A Protein that Promotes the Maturation of Synapses
Gerald D. Fischbach, M.D.
Harvard Medical School


New Aspects of Peptide Hormone Biosynthesis
Donald F. Steiner, Ph.D.
HHMI, University of Chicago


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