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The
4th Distiguished Lecture in Virology
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Prof. Ian A Wilson, D.Sc., FRS, FRSE


Dr. Wilson received a B.Sc. in Biochemistry from the University of Edinburgh in 1971, a D. Phil. degree in Molecular Biophysics from Corpus Christi College, Oxford University in 1976 and did postdoctoral research at Harvard University from 1977-1982. Dr. Wilson joined The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) in La Jolla, California in 1982 as an Assistant Professor and is currently the Hansen Professor of Structural Biology in the Dept. of Molecular Biology and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.

Dr. Wilson's laboratory focuses on the recognition of microbial pathogens by the adaptive and innate immune systems where over 85 crystal structures of mouse, human, shark, and catalytic antibodies have been determined with a variety of antigens, including steroids, peptides, transition state analogues, carbohydrates and viral proteins. His also works on the structure, receptor specificity and neutralization of the major surface antigens of HIV-1 and influenza viruses to aid in vaccine design. Broadly neutralizing antibodies to HIV-1 and influenza have been structurally characterized in complex with their antigens, including the hemagglutinin from the three human pandemic 1918 H1N1, 1957 H2N2, and 1968 H3N2 influenza viruses, as well as from recent H5N1 bird and H1N1 swine flu viruses. In cellular immunity, structures of MHC class I and class II, CD1, T cell receptors, CD8, cytokine receptors, natural killer (NK) cell receptors, Toll-like receptors (TLRs), variable lymphocyte receptors (VLRs), and other key pattern recognition receptors have defined how the immune system detects and eliminates invading viruses and bacteria. Structural investigation of folate enzymes in the purine biosynthetic pathway has led to design of potent inhibitors as leads for anti-cancer drugs.

Since 2000, Dr. Wilson has directed the Joint Center for Structural Genomics (JCSG) that has pioneered innovative new methods for high throughput structural studies, including x-ray and NMR. The JCSG has determined over 900 novel structures that focus on the expanding protein universe, as well as on environmental metagenomics and human microbiome targets. The JCSG is one of the four NIH large-scale production centers of the NIGMS Protein Structure Initiative.

Dr. Wilson was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2000, a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002, and a corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2008. He received a D.Sc. degree from Oxford University in 2000, and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of St. Andrews in 2007. He is an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He shared the Newcomb Cleveland Prize for an Outstanding Contribution to Science in 1997, for a paper in Science on how a peptide agonist activates erythropoietin receptor. In December 2006,

Dr. Wilson appeared in a PBS NOVA documentary that focused on the 1918 influenza virus pandemic. He is author of >425 peer-reviewed articles, and has served on many National and International committees and boards for structural biology, structural genomics, synchrotron radiation, and granting agencies, such as NIH and Burroughs Wellcome, as well as non-profit organizations, such as the Keystone Symposia. He is on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science and on the Editorial Boards of J. Mol. Biol., Immunity, and J. Exp. Med.