Distinguished speaker

University of Michigan professor to give talks on cell breakdown process.

University of Michigan professor to give talks on cell breakdown process

A University of Michigan professor will give two presentations at UW-La Crosse as part of the annual Distinguished Speaker in the Life Sciences.

Daniel Klionsky is the Alexander G. Ruthven Professor of Life Sciences in the Department of Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology at the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Klionsky is an expert in autophagy — the process by which cells break down to survive stress — and in how mistakes in when and where this occurs can contribute to disease. He will also speak about innovative teaching methods for biology.

The annual Distinguished Speaker in the Life Sciences is sponsored by the UWL College of Sciences and Health. Admission is free.
The presentations include:

• Research talk: “If you only have time to attend one talk on autophagy today, this is the one”
5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25
The Bluffs Room, The Union

Macroautophagy/autophagy is a process of cellular self-digestion that plays a critical role in cytoprotective responses to stress. Defects in autophagy in humans are associated with a wide range of pathologies including cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and heart disease. Designing effective therapies for these pathophysiologies will require a greater understanding of the mechanism and regulation of autophagy. The overall pathway and the protein components of autophagy are highly conserved from yeast to human; over forty autophagy-related (ATG) genes have been identified in yeast, and homologs exist for many of them in more complex eukaryotes. Many questions concerning the molecular basis of the autophagy pathway remain unanswered. For example, how is the initial sequestering compartment, the phagophore, nucleated? What is the origin of the membrane used for expansion of the phagophore to form the autophagosome? What are the roles of the various Atg proteins in the process of autophagosome biogenesis?

We have been analyzing the regulation of autophagy in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Two of the central autophagy-related proteins are Atg8 and Atg9: The amount of Atg8 determines the size of autophagosomes, whereas the Atg9 level controls the rate of autophagosome formation; therefore, we are interested in the transcriptional and post-transcriptional processes that regulate their function. The ATG8gene in particular is controlled through a complex network that involves negative regulation through several distinct mechanisms; this ensures an appropriate level of homeostatic autophagy, while preparing cells to rapidly induce autophagy when they encounter stress.

• Teaching talk: “Talking biology — active learning in the classroom”
3:20 p.m. Friday, April 26
1400 Centennial Hall

How can you shift from a traditional lecture format to a more active approach and still cover the same amount of material? How do you get students to prepare for class so that you don’t have to rehash the readings? Lecturing is largely ineffective and is an inefficient use of class time. There are alternative approaches that place the burden of learning where it belongs, on the student. You can cover the same amount of material you currently do in your lecture course and engage the students in problem solving to help them learn how to think, not just memorize. The methods used to establish an active-learning format and the rationale behind this approach will be discussed.