by Marcia Hill Gossard ’99, ’04 Ph.D. | Photos by Henry Moore Jr.
To honor Drs. Smerdon and Reeves and their long careers and innovative research on how DNA in chromatin influences basic cell functions, the School of Molecular Biosciences hosted the Smerdon/Reeves Symposium on DNA Repair in Chromatin: The First 40 years (and Beyond) May 21-23, 2015.
The event, which brought prominent speakers from the United States, Canada, and Australia, coincided with the 40th anniversary of the first studies reported on nucleotide excision repair in chromatin. The Smerdon/Reeves Chromatin-DNA Repair Lecture Fund at WSU’s School of Molecular Biosciences was created to fund a biennial lectureship and to honor their legacies.
Raymond Reeves is a pioneer in the fields of cell biology and chromatin structure/ function. His contributions include the first demonstration that gap junctions are membrane channels used for cell-to-cell communication of small molecules, that the nuclei of adult differentiated skin cells contain all of the genetic information to produce new individuals, and the original isolation and characterization of the genes coding for the High Mobility Group A (HMGA) family of non-histone chromatin proteins that regulate gene transcription in both normal and cancerous cells. He has served on numerous National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation grant panels, and on the editorial boards of a number of international scientific journals. For many years, he served as the director of the NIH Biotechnology Training Program at WSU. He has received numerous honors for his academic and research achievements. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and his work was recognized as contributing to the 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine awarded to Professor John Gurdon. More recently, he was chosen to present the WSU Distinguished Faculty Ad-dress in 2014. Dr. Reeves retired in July 2015.
Over the course of his career at WSU,Michael Smerdon, Regents Professor of biochemistry and biophysics, made impressive contributions to the understanding of DNA damage and repair in chromatin. A recognized leader in the field, he was one of the first investigators to focus on the role of chromatin structure in DNA repair. Dr. Smerdon has extensive experience on the effects of chromatin structure, chromatin modifications, and transcription factor binding on excision repair in both yeast and mammalian cells. He was continuously funded by the National Institutes of Health for 36 years. He also received a Research Career Development Award (RCDA) and MERIT award (Method to Extend Research in Time) from the National Institutes of Health. He served on several scientific advisory panels. He received several honors for his academic achievements, most recently being elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences. And this fall, a special issue DNA Repair titled “DNA Excision Repair in Chromatin” will honor his career in the field of DNA repair.