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.

Jennifer Doudna: 2017 Herbert Memorial Lecturer

Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D.
Photo by Keegan Houser, © 2015 UC Regents

After receiving her undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Pomona College, Jennifer Doudna earned her Ph.D in Biochemistry from Harvard under the guidance of Jack Szostak, and did her postdoctoral work in the lab of Thomas Cech at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Doudna then joined the faculty at Yale as an assistant professor, and in 2000, was promoted to full professor. In 1997, she became an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2002. In 2002, Doudna moved to the University of California, Berkeley, where she is currently the Li Ka Shing Chancellor's Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences and Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology. Doudna has received numerous prestigious awards and honors—among them are the Searle Scholar Award, the Alan T. Waterman Award from the NSF, the Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences from the NIH, the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Gruber Prize in Genetics, and the Canada Gairdner International Award. She was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2015.

Dr. Doudna's research has focused on important and fundamental questions in understanding the molecular structures and biological functions of RNA molecules. As a graduate student and postdoc, she studied the function of catalytic RNA ribozymes. Her group solved the crystal structure the Tetrahymena thermophila group I intron ribozyme, revealing that RNA could have a defined three-dimensional structure. Her group has solved the molecular structures of a number of other RNA molecules, including the HDV ribozyme, the Internal Ribosome Entry Site (IRES), and the Signal Recognition Particle (SRP). In 2010, Doudna's lab solved the structure of the CRISPR-associated (Cas) protein Csy4, lending important insight into how bacterial endoribonucleases recognize and silence foreign DNA. With this knowledge in hand, in 2012 Doudna's group, in collaboration with the lab of Emanuelle Charpentier, combined various elements of the CRISPR system to engineer a DNA-cleaving enzyme that could be programmed with a single RNA molecule to cleave specific DNA sites. The development of CRISPR-based technology has revolutionized scientists' ability to modify and edit genomic DNA and promises enormous therapeutic potential for the treatment of genetic disorders. Ongoing work in Dr. Doudna's lab continues to investigate the mechanisms of RNA-regulation of the genome.

Learn more about Dr. Doudna's current research at University of California, Berkeley

Past Herbert Memorial Speakers


Re-writing the language of life: Impacts and challenges of DNA editing
Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D.
HHMI, University of California, Berkeley


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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