Jack Szostak at the Weaver Endowed Lecture; Photo by Ernie Hoftyzer

Dr. Jack Szostak Speaking at the 2022 Weaver Endowed Lecture

The David Weaver Endowed Lecture is a yearly event hosted by the Genome Center and supported by David Weaver's Family. The series honors the memory of David L. Weaver, a distinguished biophysicist and professor at Tufts University for whom the endowment was established in 2006. The 2022 speaker at the David Weaver Endowed Lecture was Dr. Jack Szostak, Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine 2009, Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago, and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The title of this year's lecture was The Origin of Cellular Life (click here to watch the video).

The complexity of modern biological life has long made it difficult to understand how life could emerge spontaneously from the chemistry of the early earth.  The key to resolving this mystery lies in the simplicity of the earliest living cells.  Through our efforts to synthesize extremely simple artificial cells, we hope to discover plausible pathways for the transition from chemical evolution to Darwinian evolution. We view the two key components of a primitive cell as a self-replicating nucleic acid genome, and a self-replicating boundary structure. I will describe simple and robust pathways for the coupled growth and division of model primitive cell membranes, along with recent experimental progress towards the synthesis of self-replicating nucleic acids. I will also discuss model systems that may provide a route to artificial life with a biochemistry that is distinct from that of existing biology.

Image of the title slide of Jack Szostak's talk


If you were unable to attend the lecture on November 16, 2022, the video is available online at AggieVideo.


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