Richard Axel, MD, University Professor and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, received an A.B. from Columbia College and an M.D. from Johns Hopkins Medical School. After medical school, he initiated research in molecular biology and participated in the revolution surrounding the development of recombinant DNA technology. He then began to apply the new molecular biology to problems in neuroscience with the expectation that genetics could interface with neuroscience to approach the tenuous relationship between genes, behavior, and perception. His pioneering studies on the logic of the sense of smell provide insight into how the outside world is represented in the brain. This work also provided insight into how genes shape our perception of the sensory environment. For these studies, Dr. Axel shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with his student, Linda Buck.
In earlier studies, Dr. Axel and his students developed gene transfer techniques that permit the introduction of virtually any gene into any cell. This work led to the isolation and functional analysis of a gene for the lymphocyte surface protein, CD4, the cellular receptor for the AIDS virus, HIV. Dr. Axel's current work centers on how the recognition of odors is translated into an internal representation of sensory quality in the brain and how this leads to meaningful thoughts and behavior.
Lee C. Bollinger, President of Columbia University, a friend and colleague, will introduce Dr. Axel. Dr. Eric Kandel, Director of the Kavli Institute for Brain Sciences at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (honored by YIVO in 2001), recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on the changes in brain cells as memories are formed, will present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Axel. A musical program will feature Maria Krupoves, acclaimed folklorist and musician.
The cocktail reception begins at 6:00 p.m. and the dinner at 7:30 p.m., in the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, Manhattan. For reservations or more information: (917) 606-8287. The dinner couvert is $1000.
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