George Adrouny Lecture

22nd Annual George Adrouny Lecture

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2024

This photo shows Dr. William Wimley in a lab

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology proudly presents the 22nd Annual George Adrouny Memorial Lectureship on Tuesday, April 23rd at 10:00 a.m.  This year's lecture is in the Hutchinson Memorial Gallery and Auditorium, 1430 Tulane Avenue. 

The 2024 featured speaker is William C. Wimley, PhD George A. Adrouny, Ph.D. Professorship in Biochemistry Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Tulane University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana  Bill Wimley grew up in Monroe, Connecticut and earned his B.S. in biophysics at the University of Connecticut in 1985. In 1990, he earned his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Virginia, working with Professor Thomas E. Thompson. His postdoctoral work in Physiology and Biophysics was done at the University of California, Irvine, with Professor Stephen H. White. As a postdoc, Wimley published a series of influential papers describing the Wimley-White hydrophobicity scales, which remain widely used today in bioinformatics and structural biology. Bill has held a faculty position at Tulane since 1998.

Supported by NIH, NSF, the Louisiana Board of Regents, and other funding agencies, Bill Wimley’s research focuses on discovering, developing, and characterizing membrane-active peptides. Major research directions include the discovery of peptides with potent antiviral or antibacterial activity, offering new ways to treat infectious diseases, and peptide-based vehicles for drug delivery, offering new ways to treat diseases such as cancer. These discoveries are based on an interactive high-throughput approach called “synthetic molecular evolution” that Wimley developed at Tulane. Bill Wimley’s research career was initiated with a Ruth L. Kirschstein fellowship from NIH. In 1999, he co-founded the Tulane Structural Proteomics Initiative, which was awarded several large grants, and the New Orleans Protein Folding Intergroup, which met for nearly 20 years. Bill Wimley has published 125 peer-reviewed papers since his first in 1990. He is also the inventor of five US patents based on his work at Tulane. Wimley has been on the editorial boards of the Biophysical Journal, Journal of Membrane Biology, and BBA Biomembranes and currently chairs the Publications Committee of the Biophysical Society. Among his awards, Wimley was named the Oliver Fund Scholar by Tulane in 2012 and was named the inaugural winner of the Thomas E. Thompson Award in Membrane Structure and Assembly in 2013 by the Biophysical Society. In 2016, Wimley was named the George A. Adrouny Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. In 2024, he was awarded the Tulane School of Medicine Faculty Recognition Award for Research in Basic Science.

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His research interests center on understanding the mechanisms and regulation of gene expression in mammalian cells. His work has been supported by many grants, including an NIH MERIT Award. He has authored or coauthored over 330 research articles and reviews on these topics, and is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher. Manley is or has been an Editor of three journals and has served on numerous editorial boards and review panels. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Manley's laboratory studies gene expression in mammalian cells.  Manley and his colleagues identified and characterized the key factors responsible for polyadenylation of mRNA precursors, and elucidated how this remarkably complex machinery functions in gene regulation, for example during cell growth and differentiation. He has also studied the mechanism and regulation of the process by which introns are removed from mRNA precursors, mRNA splicing. Manley and his coworkers co-discovered the first alternative splicing factor (SR protein), characterized how this and other splicing regulatory proteins function and are themselves regulated, showed how alternative splicing can become deregulated in disease, and with respect to mechanism demonstrated that two spliceosomal small nuclear RNAs by themselves have catalytic activity. Finally, he elucidated unexpected links between these mRNA processing reactions and transcription, DNA damage signaling and maintenance of genomic stability. His work has thus provided considerable insight into the complex mechanisms that are essential for the regulated production of mRNAs in mammalian cells.

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The History of the George Adrouny Memorial Lecture

As a memorial to their late father, the distinguished former Professor of Biochemistry, George A. Adrouny, a memorial lectureship was established in 2000 by his children and family to honor his memory. The Department of Biochemistry, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, School of Medicine, is proud to host this annual event.

George AdrounyGeorge A. Adrouny was born of Armenian parents in Turkey on April 2nd, 1912. He received his BA in chemistry in 1934, and a degree in pharmaceutical chemistry in 1940, both from the American University of Beirut. While working as a freelance pharmacist, he also taught chemistry and biology at Aleppo College in Aleppo, Syria. In 1951, a Smith-Mundt Fellowship permitted him to begin graduate studies at Emery University where he earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1954. After two years as a Research Associate in Biochemistry at Emory, he was recruited to the Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry, where he ultimately rose to the rank of full professor. 

Dr. Adrouny’s research interests were diverse. His identification and characterization of the fire ant venom was published in 1959 in Science magazine. He also published papers in the areas of cardiac glycogen metabolism, intestinal dextran-hydrolyzing enzymes, biochemical effects of growth hormone and the phylogenic and evolutionary importance of hickory nut and pecan oils. 

He headed the Foreign Fellows Program, specifically created for foreign graduate students studying at Tulane. He also was placed in charge of the Medical Biochemistry course, a post that he enjoyed until his retirement in 1981. In recognition of his devotion to the organization and teaching of this course, the Owl Club gave him a certificate of recognition in 1981. He was named Professor Emeritus following his retirement from the Medical School. 

Dr. Adrouny was a member of the Society of Sigma Xi, the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Chemical Society and he was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. He was listed in the Who’s Who of American Education in 1967-68. 

In 1987, a few years after the death of Alice K. Adrouny, his wife of 38 years, Dr. Adrouny moved to Maryland to be near family where he lived until his death on November 24, 1999.

Previous Keynote Speakers

April 18, 2023
Lieping Chen, MD, PhD
United Technologies Corporation Professor in Cancer Research
and Professor of Immunobiology, of Dermatology and of Medicine (Medical Oncology)
Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
The coming era of tumor-site focused immunotherapy

April 22, 2022
Danny Reinberg, PhD
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Terry and Mel Karmazin Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology
NYU Langone School of Medicine at Smilow Research Center  
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology New York, New York
Polycomb, Inheritance and Disease

May 11, 2021
Zhijian “James” Chen, PhD
George L. MacGregor Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Science
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, Texas
Igniting an immune response with cGAS

May 8, 2020 - Covid-19 Pandemic - No Lecture (Medical/Masters students were presented with the George A. Adrouny Memorial Lecture Outstanding Achievement in Medical Biochemistry Award)

May 10, 2019
Frederick W. Alt, PhD
Charles A. Janeway Professor of Pediatrics
Professor, Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Boston Children’s Hospital Member of Cancer Immunology and Lymphoma & Myeloma
at Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center
Boston, Massachusetts
The Fundamental Role of Active Chromosome Loop Extrusion in Antibody Diversification and Genome Rearrangements

April 19, 2018
James Manley, PhD
Julian Clarence Levi Professor of Life Sciences
Columbia University
New York, New York
Disregulation of mRNA splicing in myelodysplastic syndromes and cancer

April 10, 2017
Judith Campisi, PhD
Professor of Biogerontology
Buck Institute for Research on Aging
Senior Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Novato, California
Cancer and Aging:  Rival Demons?

April 11, 2016
Hongtao Yu, PhD
Michael L. Rosenberg Scholar in Medical Research
Department of Pharmacology
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Houston, Texas
Mitotic regulators in chromosome segregation and beyond

November 1, 2015 (in conjunction with the 8th International MDM2 Workshop)
Carol Prives, PhD
DaCosta Professor of Biological Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences
Columbia University, New York, New York
p53-Dependent and Independent Roles of Mdm2 in Cancer Cells and Human Disease

April 14, 2014
Wei Gu, PhD
Abraham and Mildred Goldstein Professor
Department of Pathology & Cell Biology
Institute for Genetics
Herbert Irving Cancer Research Center
Columbia University
New York, New York
Do We Really Know How p53 Suppresses Tumorigenesis?

April 12, 2013
Arnold J. Levine, PhD
Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Natural Sciences, Princeton, New Jersey
The Evolution of the p53 Family of Genes and their Role in Cancer

May 21, 2012
Robert G. Roeder, PhD
Rockefeller University, New York, New York
Transcriptional Regulatory Mechanisms in Animal Cells

April 15, 2011
Ellen Sidransky, MD
National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland
Gaucher Disease and Parkinsonism:  Insights From a Rare Disorder

April 9, 2010
Thomas Seyfried, PhD
Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts
Ganglioside Storage Disease:  On the Road to Management

April 17, 2009
Stephen G. Sligar, PhD
University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois
Elucidating the Structure and Function of Membrane Proteins through Nanotechnology

April 7, 2008
Marlene Belfort, PhD
NYS Department of Health, Center for Medicine, Albany, New York
Genome Invaders:  Mobile Self-Splicing Introns in Bacteria

April 13, 2007
Gerald W. Hart, PhD
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland
Dynamic Cycling of O-GlcNAc:  Interplay with Phosphorylation and Roles in Diabetes, Signaling and Transcription

2005 and 2006 – Hurricane Katrina – No Lectures

October 1, 2004
Diana S. Beattie, PhD
West Virginia University School of Medicine, Morgantown, West Virginia
The Unique Mitochondrion of the African Parasite, Trypanosoma brucei

September 8, 2003
Tim Townes, PhD
University of Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama
Human Globin Gene Regulation and Genetic Strategies for Correcting Thalassemias and Sickle Cell Disease

September 23, 2002
Dagmar Ringe, PhD
Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts
From Sequence to Function: How Easy Is It?

September 10, 2001
Billy Hudson, PhD
University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas
Basement Membrane Collagen: An Ancient Protein Essential for Tissue Development

November 6, 2000
Kenneth G. Mann, PhD
University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont
Blood Coagulation at the Turn of the Century