Seminars, Meetings and Events

2014 MGM Annual Retreat

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Annual Retreat is scheduled for Friday, September 5 to Sunday, September 7, 2014 at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort in Wrightsville Beach, NC. This annual event offers the opportunity for students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, and faculty members to engage in collaborative discussions as well as showcase current scholarship and research.

For further information, please contact Annette Kennett at 613-8636 or


Thursday Series

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology has combined with the University Program in Cell and Molecular Biology as well as the Department of Cell Biology to create a seminar series we refer to as the "Thursday Series." These seminars are held each Thursday from 12:30-1:30pm in Room 147, Nanaline Duke Building. The MGM portion of the Thursday Series is coordinated by:

Debra Silver, PhD
Assistant Professor


Tuesday Series

The Tuesday Series is co-sponsored by the University Program in Genetics and Genomics (UPGG) and the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy (IGSP). All seminars take place each Tuesday from 12:30-1:30pm in Room 147, Nanaline Duke Building. The Tuesday Series is coordinated by:

Alejandro Aballay, PhD
Associate Professor
268 JONES Building
Box 3580 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27710

Tel: (919) 668-1783
Fax: (919) 684-2790

Please visit the UPGG web site for a complete Tuesday Series schedule.


MGM Post-Doctoral Fellow Distinguished Alumnus Seminar

Click here for a complete list of previous MGM Post-Doctoral Fellow Distinguished Alumnus Seminar speakers.


MGM Graduate Student Distinguished Alumnus Seminar

Click here for a complete list of previous MGM Graduate Student Distinguished Alumnus Seminar speakers.


UPGG Distinguished Lecture Series

The Duke University Distinguished Lecturer Series was designed to bring renowned lecturers to campus to illuminate progress and future areas of excitement in genetics and genomics. These seminars take place on specific Thursdays at 4:00pm in Room 103, Bryan Research Auditorium with a reception following the presentation. The Distinguished Lecture Series is free and open to the public and is organized by a UPGG student committee in conjunction with:

Mohamed Noor, PhD Mohamed Noor
Department of Biology
4214 French Science
Box 90338
Durham, N.C. 27708
Tel: (919) 613-8156
Fax: (919) 660-7372

Please visit the UPGG web site for a complete Distinguished Lecture Series schedule.


Jim McGinnis Memorial Lecture

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology will host the Thirty-Sixth Annual Jim McGinnis Memorial Lecture on March 27, 2014. This year's speaker is Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD.

Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD, professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, has devoted her scientific career to revealing the secret life of RNA. Using the approaches of structural biology and biochemistry, Doudna’s work deciphering the molecular structure of RNA enzymes (ribozymes) and other functional RNAs showed how these seemingly simple molecules can carry out the complex functions of proteins. Early in her career, Doudna and colleagues solved the crystal structures of two large RNAs – the P4-P6 domain of the Tetrahymena thermophila group I intron ribozyme and the hepatitis delta virus ribozyme. By determining their molecular structures, her work advanced the understanding of RNA’s biological function. More recent work has focused on understanding how RNA molecules control gene expression in cells and viruses. Doudna’s research on the molecular mechanisms of RNA interference (RNAi) induced her to explore the pathways by which bacteria employ small RNAs for adaptive immunity against viruses. These studies led to the recent discovery of an RNA-guided DNA endonuclease, Cas9, that protects bacteria from foreign DNA but can also be programmed for genome engineering applications in human and other cells. This work is transforming biological research in many fields, and may one day provide new human therapeutics.

Doudna grew up amidst the natural wonders of Hawaii, where she experienced volcanic eruptions, explored remote beaches and honed her body-surfing skills while living in the small town of Hilo on the Big Island.  Although there were no scientists in her immediate or extended family, Doudna was bitten by the science bug in high school when she took her first chemistry class and participated in a science seminar series highlighting the chemistry of biological systems. She now lives in Berkeley with her husband Jamie and her son Andrew, an energetic 11-year-old with an ear for music and a penchant for anything mechanical. She enjoys gardening and hiking in the Berkeley hills.

Jennifer DoudnaJennifer A. Doudna, PhD  
Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology
University of California, Berkeley
708A Stanley Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-3220 
Seminar: The Biology of CRISPRs: From Viral Defense to Genome Engineering

March 27, 2014
103 Bryan Research Building
Reception to follow lecture


The annual McGinnis Memorial Lecture was established by the staff and students of the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology in 1979 to honor the memory of James William McGinnis, Jr.

Jim was born March 13, 1951, in Greensboro, N.C. He grew up in Cary; graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass.; received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Stanford University in 1973; completed the first year of medical school at Duke; transferred to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; and was a doctoral candidate here at the time of his death, March 11, 1978, in a canoeing accident. His research involved in vitro translation and RNase III processing of avian tumor virus (RSV) RNA. The Ph.D. was awarded posthumously. His postdoctoral work was to be with Dr. Fred Sanger, Cambridge, England.

Science was Jim’s first allegiance, but he relished excellence in music, sports, literature, and art. He loved philosophy, enjoyed nature, and prized friendship. Learning was exhilarating to him,
and, to this good end, the lecture is dedicated.


Since its inception, the McGinnis lecture program has brought 36 exemplary speakers to campus, including four Nobel laureates (J. Michael Bishop, David Baltimore, Phil Sharp, and Elizabeth Blackburn), and twenty-seven members of the National Academy of Sciences, including leading investigators in the areas of virology, microbial pathogenesis and physiology, molecular biology, immunology, and RNA biology.

Click here for a complete list of previous McGinnis Memorial Lecture speakers.

The Jim McGinnis Memorial Lecture is organized by a student committee in conjunction with:

Raphael Valdivia, PhD
Assistant Professor
273 JONES Building
Box 3580 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27710
Tel: (919) 668-3831
Fax: (919) 681-9193


Joklik Distinguished Lectureship

The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology will host the Fifth Annual Joklik Distinguished Lecture in conjunction with the annual MGM departmental retreat, September 5-7, 2014. This year's speaker is Beatrice Hahn, MD.

Beatrice Hahn, elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, has a longstanding interest in the origins and evolution of human pathogens. She is recognized for deciphering the primate origins of human immunodeficiency viruses types 1 and 2 (HIV-1 and HIV-2) and the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. Hahn has also developed noninvasive methods to study the zoonotic potential of microbes that infect endangered primate species in the wild. At present, Hahn is focused on developing a protective human AIDS vaccine by dissecting the HIV-1 transmission process and studying the biological properties of newly transmitted founder viruses.

Over the years, Hahn has earned numerous honors, from receiving a National Institutes of Health R37 Merit Award in 2008 to election to both the American Academy of Microbiology and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. In 2002, Discover magazine named her one of “The 50 Most Important Women in Science.” Hahn credits “a lot of luck, good health, a talented team, and a good husband” for her success. Together with her husband George Shaw, another international leader in human and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) research, Hahn continues to make impressive contributions to this field of medical science. Both Hahn and Shaw are now based at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Beatrice HahnBeatrice Hahn, MD
Professor of Medicine and Microbiology
Department of Microbiology 
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania 

Seminar: TBD

September 6, 2014
Blockade Runner Beach Resort
Wrightsville Beach, NC
Reception to follow lecture

The Joklik Distinguished Lectureship honors and commemorates the myriad contributions of Dr. Bill (Wolfgang Karl) Joklik to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Duke, which he chaired; to the institution, specifically for his role as the co-founder of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center; and to the broader microbiology community for his research program in virology, service in founding the American Society for Virology, and for his editorial work for the journal Virology and the seminal text, Zinsser's Microbiology. [Read more]

Click here for a complete list of previous Joklik Distinguished Lectureship speakers.


Other Triangle Area Seminars

  • Triangle Microbial Interactions Meetings


2014 MGM Holiday Celebration

The 2014 MGM Holiday Celebration is scheduled for Saturday, December 6th, from 7-11pm at Kirby Hall, Duke Gardens.  Please mark your calendars.


2014 MGM Softball Game

It's that time of year again for the annual MGM softball game at the Durham Athletic Park (DAP).  The game and cookout are scheduled for Friday, June 6th, from 4-8 pm. Our grill masters will be out in full force cooking up hamburgers and hotdogs with all of the extras. Dust off the bats and gloves, bring your families, and come on out and have some great fun and food!

In order to get a count for food, please RSVP to no later than, Friday, May 30th.

We look forward to seeing you there!
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