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Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath to Present Shipley Lectures at Clarkson University Nov. 20 & 21

Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Ada Yonath will present the two lectures of Clarkson University's 20th Shipley Distinguished Lectureship, November 20 and 21. Both lectures are free and open to the public.

Ada Yonath Yonath, an Israeli crystallographer best known for her pioneering work on the structure of the ribosome, is director of the Helen and Milton A. Kimmelman Center for Biomolecular Structure and Assembly, and the Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professor of Structural Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Yonath's lecture "Can structures lead to advanced therapeutics?" will be presented on Friday, November 21, at 4:15 p.m. in Science Center Room 360 (#18 on the map at The presentation will be preceded by a 3:30 p.m. reception.

In describing her lecture, Yonath says that the incredible global increase in resistance to antibiotics that we are witnessing recently is a serious medical threat. "It seems that the world is approaching a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries, which have been treatable for decades, could become fatal once again," she says.

Ribosomes, the universal cellular machines that translate the genetic code into proteins, are paralyzed by almost half of the clinically useful antibiotics that bind to their functional sites.

"By investigating the three dimensional structures of ribosomes from non-pathogenic bacteria as models for genuine pathogens, common features were identified," explains Yonath. "Thus, the antibiotics binding modes, inhibitory actions and synergism pathways have been determined for almost all ribosomal antibiotics. These indicated the principles of differentiation between patients and pathogens and suggested common principles of mechanisms leading to bacterial resistance."

Yonath will discuss these findings, as well as species specific diversity in susceptibility to infectious diseases and in developing specific resistance mechanisms.

For students, faculty and the more technically inclined, Yonath's lecture "What was first, the genetic code or its products?" will be presented on Thursday, November 20, at 11 a.m. in Bertrand H. Snell Hall Room 212 (#20 on the map at

In 2009, Yonath received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry along with Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Thomas A. Steitz for her studies on the structure and function of the ribosome.

The Shipley Lectures are sponsored by the Shipley Family Foundation, with support from Clarkson's Center for Advanced Materials Processing (CAMP). The lectures were initiated in 1994 by Professor Egon Matijevic through a generous gift from the late Lucia and Charles Shipley through the Shipley Family Foundation.

The University's relationship with the Shipleys dates back to1970, when Matijevic  was invited by the Shipley Company to resolve a patent situation involving their critical catalyst in electroless plating, establishing a professional relationship with the two entrepreneurs that continued over the years.

Over the past 20 years, distinguished speakers from around the world, including eight Nobel Laureates (soon to be nine), have presented talks.

The purpose of the lectures is to promote scholarly achievements at Clarkson by providing the opportunity for idea exchange and active learning, as well as allowing undergraduate and graduate students to meet the most prestigious speakers from all over the world.

For more information about the lectures, please contact Shipley Lectureship founder and organizer Egon Matijevic, Victor K. LaMer Professor of Colloid and Surface Science, at 315-268-2392.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or]

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