In 1994, just two years after beginning her teaching career at Chestnut Hill College, Lakshmi Atchison, Ph.D., professor of biology, brought her dream to fruition. That dream of an annual biomedical series in which top scientific professionals would give lectures to students and the community quickly won wide acclaim.
“I’ve always believed that classroom teaching is not done within four walls and that students need to see what is out there beyond the classroom to inspire them to dream big,” Atchison says, describing her reasons for starting the annual Biomedical Distinguished Lecture Series.
Atchison, who has worked as a human genome researcher at Fox Chase Cancer Center, outlines her goals for the series, including: to provide a forum at CHC for learning recent advances in biomedical research; to promote interest in the global science of Nanotechnology and Nanomedicine; and to expose students and the community to prominent scientific and medical professionals.
Over 23 years, Atchison says the series has met, and continues to meet, these goals by welcoming some of the top scientific minds from across the globe to Chestnut Hill College.
Atchison focuses on recognized “big-wigs” who have made significant and often life-saving or life-altering contributions within the scientific — and specifically biomedical — community.
Such is the case with this year’s speaker, Nobel Laureate Dr. Harald zur Hausen.
Recognized for his discovery that the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause in nearly all cases of cervical cancer, Dr. zur Hausen of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2008.
His research laid the foundation for pharmaceutical companies to develop the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines, which have been effective in limiting cases of cervical cancer and have saved millions of lives worldwide.
Dr. zur Hausen will present his evolving research on cervical cancer, and his current research on the role of novel viruses in cancers of the colon and breast, as well as in multiple sclerosis, in his presentation titled, “Identification of Novel Agents as Risk Factors for Colon and Breast Cancers and Neurological Disorders,” March 21 at 2 p.m. in the East Parlor of St. Joseph Hall.
In addition, zur Hausen will lead an open discussion with all CHC students including biology majors, broadly covering existing measures for HPV prevention prior to the lecture.
He is the third Nobel laureate to visit the College in the lecture series’ history, an accomplishment for Atchison and Chestnut Hill College.
“It is humbling to know that many extraordinary professionals who are internationally acclaimed have participated in this series,” Atchison says. “It has added tremendous prestige to our institution and has opened so many doors to students that they otherwise may not have had.”
For the complete history of the Biomedical Lecture Series and the impact it has had on Chestnut Hill College, be sure to pick up a copy of the spring magazine, due out in May.
— Marilee Gallagher ’14