From Stockholm to New Orleans, ASCB’s Nobel Laureates Detour to Address Annual Meeting

It was in San Diego and nearly 40 years ago but Randy Schekman still vividly remembers his first ASCB Annual Meeting. George Palade, fresh from Stockholm where he had just received his 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, was there to speak about the innovations in electron microscopy and cell fractionation that earned him the prize. Schekman has no better word for the experience than “thrilling.”

Just a few days after the announcement that Schekman had won the 2013 Nobel in medicine along with James Rothman and Thomas Südhof, ASCB Executive Director Stefano Bertuzzi called Schekman. Bertuzzi asked if he would consider detouring to speak at the 2013 Annual Meeting. Schekman, who is now at the University of California, Berkeley, jumped at the chance. He told Bertuzzi about ASCB 1974 and said that he would be honored to speak at ASCB after the medal ceremony in Stockholm, just as Palade had done. Schekman told Bertuzzi that he’d already followed in Palade’s footsteps in his own research in vesicle function in secretion and trafficking. He’d also followed in Palade’s footsteps by serving as ASCB President. Flying to New Orleans after Stockholm would close the circle.

But Schekman won’t be alone on the ASCB stage on Monday, December 16. His Nobel co-winner and fellow longtime ASCB member, Rothman from Yale University, has also agreed to fly Sweden to Louisiana. Schekman’s talk is entitled “Genetic and Biochemical Dissection of the Secretory Pathway.” Rothman will speak on “The Principle of Membrane Fusion.”

Leading off the Monday evening program at 6:30 pm in the Great Hall of the New Orleans Morial Convention Center will be the winner of the ASCB 2013 Public Service Award, Jeremy M. Berg, former head of the NIH National Institute for General Medical Sciences and current Director of the Institute for Personalized Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

About the Author:

Christina Szalinski is a science writer with a PhD in Cell Biology from the University of Pittsburgh.

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