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Kathy Wyss
IU Bloomington Biology

David Bricker
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, October 15, 2009

Joan Wood and James P. Holland lecturers study viruses, internal evolutionary conflicts

Oct. 15, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A virologist and an evolutionary biologist are the latest honorees of Indiana University Bloomington's Joan Wood and James P. Holland lecture series.

Mavis Agbandje-McKenna

Photo courtesy of Mavis Agbandje-McKenna

The University of Florida School of Medicine's Mavis Agbandje-McKenna

Print-Quality Photo

Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Florida School of Medicine, will give a talk, "Structural studies of Adeno-associated viruses towards improved gene delivery applications," at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, in Myers Hall room 130. Abandje-McKenna studies the basic biology of viruses, with the goal to using knowledge of their 3D structure and host interactions to manipulate them for delivering treatments of diseases which afflict plants, animals, and humans. Agbandje-McKenna is the 29th Joan Wood Lecturer.

Harmit Singh Malik, an associate member of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, will also lecture. "The high-stakes evolutionary game of 'rock, paper, scissors' between primates and viruses" will begin at 4 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19, in Whittenberger Auditorium (Indiana Memorial Union). Malik is interested in the genetics of evolutionary conflict. He studies rapidly evolving proteins as a hallmark of this kind of conflict, hoping to better understand the molecular nature of the conflict, as well as uncover previously unrecognized sources of conflict. Malik, also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist, is the Holland series' 10th honoree.

Harmit Singh Malik

Photo courtesy of Harmit Singh Malik

The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Harmit Singh Malik

Print-Quality Photo

It would seem 2009 is Bloomington's Year of the Virus. Both Agbandje-McKenna and Malik study viruses, and earlier this year, IU Bloomington established the new Biochemistry Department, which under Carl Bauer's leadership seeks to specialize in viral biochemistry and molecular biology. And, of course, there is the expectation among local public health officials that H1N1 infections will increase significantly among Bloomingtonians this year.

The Joan Wood Lecture Series provides a forum for undergraduates to interact with women in science-related careers. Designed to encourage undergraduate women to pursue advanced degrees in science, the series showcases the many career opportunities available to science majors. Before her death in 1990, Dr. Wood was a strong advocate of women in the sciences and remained active in educational programs within the IU Bloomington Department of Biology. Memorial contributions made in her honor helped establish this lecture series.

Established in 2000, the Holland Lecture Series is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (DEMA), the Herman C. Hudson and James P. Holland Scholars Program, and the Department of Biology. The series brings to the Bloomington campus great researchers who are members of demographic groups historically underrepresented in the sciences. The 2009 lecture is sponsored by DEMA; the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs; the College of Arts and Sciences; the Department of Biology and its National Institutes of Health Graduate Training Grant; and the Medical Sciences Program. Series namesake James P. Holland won many awards in recognition of his devotion to the needs of minority students and the education of all IU students.

More information about the two lecture series can be found at and

To learn about either lecture, please contact Kathy Wyss, IU Bloomington Department of Biology, at 812-855-6195 or, or David Bricker, University Communications, at 812-56-9035 or