Nobel Prize winner addresses Campbell students

Dr. Richard J. Roberts, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Medicine, visited Campbell University last week to give an invited talk to students. Roberts was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of “split genes” in higher organisms, a breakthrough in biological and medical research concerning the development of cancer and other diseases. In the mid-1970s, it was generally accepted that genes existed as continuous segments within a DNA molecule. This view changed radically when Roberts discovered that in higher organisms an individual gene can comprise several DNA segments separated by chunks of irrelevant DNA. Roberts also discovered an elegant editing process that happens within the cell called Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) Splicing in which irrelevant chunks of genetic material are removed and the relevant segments are connected together to create messenger RNA. Messenger RNA then ensures that proteins are successfully made from the genetic instructions coded in the DNA molecule. On this occasion, Dr Roberts gave a generalist talk to an audience comprised largely of undergraduates and students in the School of Pharmacy. Several distinguished guests, friends of Campbell University and top scientists from local medical research companies, also attended. The talk focused on the tremendous varieties of life on earth, and Dr Roberts captured the audience’s attention throughout the talk with his excellent ability to put complex genetic information in terms that everyone could understand. Dr Roberts is currently the Chief Scientific Officer at New England Biolabs, Mass. He was born in Derby, England, and grew up in the city of Bath. He graduated from the University of Sheffield with Bachelors and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry. Roberts’ interest in chemistry developed into a strong desire to do research in molecular biology and he moved to the U.S. to complete postdoctoral studies in this field at Harvard University. His award-winning research was conducted at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine 1993. Roberts’ current research focuses on Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics.Photo Copy: Dr. Richard J. Roberts speaks to an audience of Campbell students, Friday, September 22. Roberts won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Medicine.(Photo by Scott Capell)

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