February 11, 2000

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Researcher Will Present a Lecture on
Potassium Channels at Brookhaven Lab, March 8


UPTON, NY - Roderick MacKinnon, an investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics at Rockefeller University, will give a lecture titled "Exploring Potassium Channels: A Key to Understanding the Nervous System," at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Wednesday, March 8, at 4 p.m., in Berkner Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Potassium channels play a key role in transmitting the nervous system's electrical signals, which control the heart's pace, hormone balance and
several other biological processes. Using a technique known as x-ray crystallography, MacKinnon and his colleagues recently determined the
atomic structure of a potassium channel from the bacterium Streptomyces lividans. From this information, researchers can learn more about how
potassium channels function, which is important for designing drugs that may cure or alleviate certain neurological diseases, epileptic seizures and
cardiac arrythmias. MacKinnon will discuss the challenges he encountered in determining the potassium channel structure, the scientific surprises that came about in solving the structure, and his plans for future research.

Roderick MacKinnon earned a B.A. in biochemistry from Brandeis University in 1978, and an M.D. from Tufts Medical School in 1982. He completed his residency at Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard University, in 1985, and a postdoctoral fellowship at Brandeis University in 1989. He then started his career as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, eventually becoming professor in the school's Department of Neurobiology. In 1996, he joined The Rockefeller University as professor in the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics, and, in 1997, he became an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

MacKinnon has won several honors, among them the Biophysical Society Young Investigator Award in 1995, the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize in 1998, and the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award.

For more information about the lecture, call Brookhaven's Public Affairs Office at (631) 344-2345. The Laboratory is located on William Floyd
Parkway (County Road 46), one-and-a-half miles north of Exit 68 on the Long Island Expressway.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory creates and operates major facilities available to university, industrial and
government personnel for basic and applied research in the physical, biomedical and environmental sciences, and in selected energy technologies. The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, a not-for-profit research management company, under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.

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