Eberly College of Science

Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology to take place March 14-15

Clifford Tabin, a professor in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and also the chairman of the department, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in Evolutionary Biology on March 14 and 15 on Penn State's University Park campus. The free public lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science. The series includes a lecture intended for a general audience titled "Revisiting Evolutionary Examples Used by Darwin: New Insights in the Varied Beaks of Darwin's Finches and Regressive Evolution in Cave Fish" at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 14. Tabin also will give a more specialized lecture titled "Evolution and Development of Gut and Limb Pattern" at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15. Both lectures will take place in the Berg Auditorium, 100 Life Sciences Building.

Tabin's research focuses on the genetic pathways that establish morphological form and structure during development and how evolution tweaks such pathways to generate diversity in the animal world. In the general-audience presentation, he will focus on the interplay between developmental mechanisms and physical forces generated within tissues in establishing the intricate looping and coiling pattern of the vertebrate gut. He will show how models for gut development are derived through studies of the chick and are verified by the modified gut coiling observed in birds that have adapted to a very different diet. In the more specialized lecture, he will discuss the evolution of limb development; specifically, the morphological changes in the hindlimb of hopping rodents such as the jerboa.

Tabin's lab is credited with the first use of retroviral vectors for gene transfer into developing chick embryos, and with the discovery of the first genes involved in regulating left-right asymmetry in the embryo. In addition, Tabin has made many contributions to limb-development research, as well as research involving the isolation of the Sonic hedgehog gene. Tabin also has studied the evolution of cave fish, and he has examined the way evolution has produced different morphologies such as the distinct beaks in different species of Darwin's Finches.

In addition to his work as a professor at Harvard Medical School, Tabin heads an international effort to establish a medical school in Kathmandu to train physicians to serve the needs of the rural poor of Nepal. He has earned numerous awards including a March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology in 2008 and a University of Chicago Professional Achievement Citation in 2005. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and he has served on the editorial boards of many professional journals including Science, the Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine, Genes and Development, and Developmental Biology. He has published numerous papers in refereed journals such as Nature, the Journal of Virology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Before becoming a faculty member at Harvard Medical School's Department of Genetics in 1989, Tabin was an independent fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital where he studied limb regeneration and limb development. As a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University from 1985 to 1986, he worked on other aspects of developmental biology. Tabin earned a Ph.D. degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984 and a bachelor's degree at the University of Chicago in 1976.

For more information about the lecture or for access assistance, contact Stephanie Gookin at 814-865-4562 or by e-mail at sjgookin@psu.edu.

Last Updated January 09, 2015