The University Record, November 23, 1998

Dixon named Russel Lecturer

By Theresa Maddix

Jack Dixon, the Minor J. Coon Professor of Biological Chemistry and chair of the Department of Biological Chemistry, has been chosen as the 1998 Russel Lecturer.

The annual lectureship is the highest honor the University gives to senior faculty members. Dixon was nominated by the Research Club and confirmed by the Board of Regents at its November meeting. He will deliver the lecture at 2 p.m. March 9 in Rackham Amphitheatre.

Dixon has established himself scientifically as a leader in the role of protein tyrosine phosphatases in signal transduction events and has made fundamental contributions to the understanding of hormone biosynthesis and processing. Dixon has written about his work in 203 articles in peer-reviewed journals and in the chapters of 43 books.

Dixon is recognized nationally through his many affiliations. He is president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, serves on the National Review Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is a member in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among other honors, Dixon has received the National Institutes of Health Merit Award and the Distinguished Faculty Lectureship Award in Biomedical Research, and was named Michigan Scientist of the Year in 1994.

“I feel very fortunate to be among the distinguished group of faculty who have presented the Russel Lecture,” Dixon said. “I am, of course, delighted that the Russel Lecture recognizes me as an individual, and I want to share this recognition with my laboratory co-workers, as well as the biological chemistry faculty.”

The focus of Dixon’s talk will be cellular communication. Describing his work, Dixon said, “Living things, from bacteria to humans, coordinate their life cycles through chemical signaling systems.” One of these systems is reversible phosphorylation. “Reversible phosphorylation controls when a cell grows and divides and when it dies. We are attempting to understand how phosphatases [proteins controlling key parts of the signalling process] function in both health and disease.”


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