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The Annual Dr. Aaron I. Grollman Visiting Professorship In Basic Sciences

The Aaron I. Grollman Visiting Professorship sponsors an annual lecture hosted by Graduate Program in Life Science’s which is considered to be one of the premiere lectures held at the University of Maryland, Baltimore each year. The goal of this lectureship is to provide an opportunity for our students, postdoctoral scholars and faculty to hear an internationally renown scientist discuss her or his research and “career story”. The opportunity to invite and secure the speaker for this event is rotated between our seven PhD granting graduate programs. Following the seminar, the speaker and members of the GPILS community attend a reception and dinner on campus. During the day of the lecture students and postdocs have the opportunity to attend a Q&A luncheon with the speaker.

Past Speakers


Billy Hudson, PhD, Scientific Director and Co-founder, Aspirnaut


Eva Harris, PhD, Professor, Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, Director of the Center for Global Health, University of California, Berkley


Suzana Herculano-Houzel, PhD, Associate Professor, Departments of Psychology and Biological Sciences, Vanderbilt University

Her talk was titled "All brains are not created equal"


Eric Olsen, PhD, Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research, Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Science, Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Biology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

His talk was titled "Correcting Human Disease with Genomic Editing and Regenerative Medicine"


Leonoardo G. Cohen, M.D., Chief, Human Cortical Physiology and Stroke Neurorehabilitation Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

His talk was titled "Restoring brain function after injury: Strategies in the era of open science"


Harry C. Dietz, III, M.D., Victor A. McKusick Professor of Genetics in the Departments of Medicine, Pediatrics, and Molecular Biology and Genetics, Director, William S. Smilow Center for Marfan Syndrome Research, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

His talk was titled, "The Extracellular Matrix in Homeostatic, Autoimmune and Fibrotic Disease Processes"


Sarkis K. Mazmanian, PhD, Professor, California Institute of Technology, Biology Division, MacArthur Fellow

His talk was titled "Learning To Tolerate Our Microbial Self"


James R. Lupski, M.D., PhD, D.Sc. (hon), FAAP, FACMG, FAAAS, The Cullen Endowed Chair in Molecular Genetics, Professor of Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine

His talk was titled "Genomics in Clinical Practice: A Story About Charcot-Marie-Tooth Neuropathy"


Carol Greider, PhD, 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. She is the Daniel Nathans Professor and Director, Department of Molecular Biology & Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Greider's talk was titled "Telomerase and the Consequences of Telomere Dysfunction"  

Dr. Greider was awarded The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2009.


Bert Vogelstein, M.D., Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Dr. Vogelstein and his colleagues have demonstrated that human colorectal tumors represent the expansion of a single transformed cell. The initiation of this process is due to mutations in genes controlling the APC/b-catenin pathway. Progress is due to mutations in other genes, such as c-Ki-Ras, p53, and those controlling the responses to TGF-b and related ligands. These mutations occur in a preferred order as the tumor progresses from benign to malignant stages and can occur either through inherited or somatic means. Genetic alterations affecting genetic stability, such as those resulting in mismatch repair defects or aberrant chromosome segregation, can lead to an accelerated accumulation of somatic mutations and predisposition to cancer. Dr. Vogelstein’s current work is devoted to the use of sophisticated molecular genetic methods to probe the function of the genes noted above in colorectal cancer cells. His group has developed powerful methods to disrupt specific genes in colorectal cancer cells for this purpose. Additionally, they have invented new technologies for detecting mutations and used these technologies to improve early cancer detection and diagnosis of hereditary susceptibility. Other research in his laboratory focuses on the design of novel therapeutic agents targeting the epithelial and non-epithelial components of colorectal cancers.

Dr. Vogelstein's talk was titled "Cancer Genomes and Their Implications for Research and Patients"


‌Michael Gazzaniga, PhD, is a Professor of Psychology and the Director for the SAGE Center for the Study of Mind at the University of California Santa Barbara. He oversees an extensive and broad research program investigating how the brain enables the mind. Over the course of several decades, a major focus of his research has been an extensive study of patients that have undergone split-brain surgery that have revealed lateralization of functions across the cerebral hemispheres. In addition to his position in Santa Barbara, Professor Gazzaniga is also the Director of the Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience, President of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute, and is a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. He is also the author of the recent book "The science behind what makes us unique" by Michael Gazzaniga, Ecco/HarperCollins Publisher (2008).

Dr. Gazzaniga's talk was titled "The Law and Neuroscience"


‌Claire Fraser-Liggett, PhD, President and Director of The Institute for Genomic Research was the speaker at our inaugural lectureship. Dr. Fraser has played a role in the sequening and analysis of human, animal, plant and microbial genomes to better understand the role that genes play in development, evolution, physiology and disease. She led the teams that sequenced the genomes of several microbial organisms, including important human and animal pathogens, and as a consequence helped to initiate the era of comparative genomics. She has served on a number of National Research Council committees on counter-bioterrorism, domestic animal genomics, polar biology, and metagenomics. Dr. Fraser-Liggett has more than 220 scientific publications, and has served on committees of the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy and National Institutes of Health. She received her PhD in pharmacology from State University of New York at Buffalo.

Dr. Fraser-Liggett's talk was titled “Metagenomics studies of human microbial communities in health and disease”

Dr. Fraser-Liggett is now the Director of the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.


‌David Ginsburg, M.D., James V. Neel Distinguished University Professor of Internal Medicine & Human Genetics, Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Medicine, and a charter member of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan Medical School. Since 1994 he has been an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and in 2007 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. For the past 25 years, David Ginsburg has dedicated his career to understanding the clotting system and how it maintains its delicate balance in preventing blood loss. He has identified several genes in the clotting pathway and characterized the causes of a variety of inherited versions of coagulation diseases, which together afflict millions of people.

Dr. Ginsburg's talk was titled "Whole Genome Approaches to Cardiovascular Disease"