Noted Harvard Biochemist Will Present Silliman Lectures at Yale
Martin Karplus, a noted Harvard professor who specializes in theoretical chemistry and biochemistry, will present three lectures Jan. 19-21 on “Proteins: The Fourth Dimension” as part of the Silliman Memorial Lectures series sponsored by Yale University. The lectures, which are free and open to the public, will be at 4 p.m. each day in Davies Auditorium in Becton Center, 15 Prospect St.
The topics and dates of his lectures are: “Dynamics and Function: An Overview,” with film, on Monday, Jan. 19; “Protein Folding: From the Native to the Denatured State and Back Again” on Tuesday, Jan. 20; and “How Enzymes Work: Activation Energies and Dynamics” on Wednesday, Jan. 21.
Karplus is the author of more than 500 journal articles and book chapters, as well as two books that focus on developing theoretical methods for increasing our understanding of chemical problems. In his early work, he developed a quantum chemical theory for describing the effects of weak interactions on the electronic structure and spectra of molecules, leading to a molecular interpretation of nuclear magnetic resonance and electron spin resonance characteristics.
His theory of vicinal coupling is essential for organic and protein structure determinations, and his original paper on this subject is one of the most widely cited references in all of chemistry. He was one of the first chemists to perform quantum mechanical calculations on the ground and excited states of large molecules, and he did the first theoretical study at the atomic level of cooperativity in hemoglobin – a key system in understanding biological control mechanisms. The methods he developed for studying the structure, dynamics and thermodynamics of biological systems are now used by a large community of scientists.
Once a graduate student with Linus Pauling at California Institute of Technology, where he received his Ph.D. in 1953, Karplus now divides his time between Harvard and the Universit Louis Pasteur in Strasbourg, France. His current research focuses on protein folding and the use of computer simulations for combinatorial drug design.
Established in 1901, the Silliman Memorial Lectures series is the oldest at Yale. It was established by a bequest from Augustus Ely Silliman of Brooklyn, New York, in honor of his mother, Hepsa Ely Silliman. The annual lectureship is designed to “illustrate the presence and wisdom of God as manifested in the natural and moral world.”