Dr. Graham Hatfull, who is national director of a multi-institution undergraduate research program of which Hope College has been a charter member since 2008, will focus on the scientific knowledge gained through the project during a lecture on Friday, Nov. 13, at 3 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.
Hatfull, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) professor and leads HHMI’s SEA-PHAGES program, will present “Exploration and Exploitation of Mycobacteriophages” through the college’s Dr. Harrison C. Visscher ’51 and Dr. Robert D. Visscher ’51 Lectureship in Genetics.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
SEA-PHAGES, which stands for Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science, engages freshmen at the participating colleges and universities in a year-long course in isolating, naming, sequencing and analyzing newly discovered mycobacteriophages, which are viruses that infect bacteria. The program is designed to enable students to make significant contributions to the field of genomics as they learn to think like scientists.
Hope was one of the first 12 colleges and universities in the country to participate in SEA-PHAGES, which now reaches more than 95 campuses. Thus far, more than 60 Hope students have been included as co-authors on two publications describing genomes analyzed as part of the program.
Hatfull, who is also a professor of biological sciences and the Eberly Family Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Pittsburgh, will consider how the multi-year initiative has enhanced understanding of the bacteriophage population and its diversity. Thus far, the program has isolated and genomically characterized about 850 phages that infect the M. smegmatis bacterial species.
Hatfull has been at the University of Pittsburgh since 1988 and served as chair of the Department of Biological Sciences from 2003 to 2011. His research focuses on the molecular genetics of the mycobacteria and their bacteriophages, and their use for educational advancement.
Highlights of his research accomplishments include publication of more than 160 peer-reviewed research articles, 37 book chapters or reviews, and four books. He has mentored 20 Ph.D. students, more than 100 undergraduate student researchers and 16 postdoctoral associates.
Hatfull has received the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award at both the junior and senior level, and the University of Pittsburgh Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a teaching fellow of the National Academy of Science. He has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor since 2002.
He received a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in biological sciences from Westfield College, University of London in 1978, and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from Edinburgh University in 1981. He did postdoctoral work at Yale University in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and at the Medical Research Council at Cambridge University.
The college’s Dr. Harrison C. Visscher ’51 and Dr. Robert D. Visscher ’51 Lectureship in Genetics, which was created to bring recognized scholars in the field of genetics to campus, premiered in the fall of 2013 with an address by Nobel Laureate Dr. Thomas R. Cech of the University of Colorado, Boulder. The biennial lectureship was established by Dr. Harrison C. Visscher and Dr. Robert D. Visscher, 1951 Hope graduates and twin brothers who each pursued careers in medicine. They practiced obstetrics and gynecology together for almost 20 years in Grand Rapids, and in 1965 initiated an obstetrics and gynecology residency training program at Blodgett Memorial Medical Center and Saint Mary’s Hospital. Harrison Visscher’s career included 15 years in Washington, D.C., as director of education for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Robert Visscher’s career included starting the first in vitro fertilization program in 1982 in western Michigan and serving as executive director of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Harrison Visscher died in December 2013, while Robert Visscher lives in Holland.
Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., between 10th and 12th streets.