Apr. 02, 2013

HHMI Chemist Researching HIV to Deliver Smith Lecture April 4


GENESEO, N.Y. -- Michael Summers, Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator at the University of Maryland/Baltimore County, will be discussing his work with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) imaging in unraveling the internal structure of HIV at the Department of Chemistry's Richard F. Smith Lecture April 4. His presentation, "NMR Studies of HIV-1 Genome Packaging and Virus Assembly," begins at 7:30 p.m. in Newton Hall 202 and is free and open to the public. Summers is world-renowned for his studies using NMR in examining HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

A major focus of Summers' research is HIV's Gag protein complex-a grouping of the nucleocapsid and two other proteins. In a series of studies beginning in the early 1990s, Summers' lab deciphered the structures of the proteins that make up the Gag complex and demonstrated the key role of the nucleocapsid in viral assembly. Summers and his colleagues used NMR to determine the structure of the nucleocapsid when it is tethered to RNA, finding that the protein recognizes and grasps specific sites on the RNA molecule using two zinc knuckles.

Summers also is professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Maryland/Baltimore County and an adjunct professor of chemistry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. He earned his doctorate in bioinorganic chemistry from Emory University.

He also is a fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition, he has been a major contributor to the success of the Meyerhoff Scholar Program, which sends students from underrepresented groups into science Ph.D. and M.D. programs. Summers will discuss his experiences with minority recruitment and mentoring April 5 at 2 p.m. in Newton 212.

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