David A. Agard, professor of biochemistry and biophysics and of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator will present the Ernest C. Pollard Lecture at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, November 18, in 112 Borland Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The free public lecture, titled “To Fold or Not to Fold: The Yin and Yang of Chaperone-mediated Client Activation,” is sponsored by the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. This lecture was originally scheduled for March 2019 but was rescheduled due to unforeseen travel delays.
With a strong background in structural biophysics, Agard focuses his work on understanding how the heat shock protein HSP90 acts as a protein chaperone, facilitating the proper folding of other proteins within the cell into their functional three-dimensional structures. He also studies how microtubules—cellular structures that aid in a number of essential cell functions—are formed through “nucleation.” Agard has been instrumental in the development of methodologies and technologies that improve microscopic imaging, including direct phasing methods for small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), three dimensional deconvolution and Structured Illumination light microscopies, cryo-electron tomography, the K2 Summit single electron counting direct detector, and second-generation beam-induced motion correction software.
Agard was the founding director of the California Institute for Bioengineering, Biotechnology and Quantitative Biomedical Research in 2001, and was the UCSF Scientific Director from 2002 to 2006. He was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007 and elected as Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. He serves on numerous advisory boards as well as the National Advisory General Medical Sciences Council at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Agard received a bachelor’s degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University in 1975 and a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1980. He was a postdoctoral researcher at UCSF and at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. Agard joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco, in 1983.
The Ernest C. Pollard Lecture is named in honor of the professor of physics who taught at Penn State from 1961 to 1971 and founded the Department of Biophysics. In 1979 the Department of Biophysics merged with the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry to form the present Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.