Ron Vale, the Vice President of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and Executive Director of its Janelia Research Campus, was the 2023 featured speaker of the TNQ Distinguished Lectures in the Life Sciences.
He delivered his lectures in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru in January 2023. The 2023 lectures are the 1ˢᵗ edition of Series II of this lecture series.
Dr Ron Vale is Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco, and now has a lab at HHMIʼs Janelia Research Campus. He has been the recipient of many prestigious awards including the 2012 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, the 2017 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, and the 2019 Canada Gairdner International Award for Biomedical Research. Ron Vale has served as President of the American Society of Cell Biology.
Professor Valeʼs research has focused on molecular motor proteins. These nanoscale biological machines drive muscle contraction, the beating of cilia and flagella, and the transport of molecules inside cells. Vale discovered the motor protein kinesin, one of the three major classes of molecular motors (the other two are dynein and myosin). Over many years, Valeʼs laboratory has been involved in elucidating how kinesin and dynein convert chemical energy into movement, and has also discovered and studied other proteins that organize the microtubule cytoskeleton, the tracks along which these motor proteins move. Many human diseases involve molecular motor proteins, and Vale has co-founded a company, Cytokinetics Inc., to develop drugs that target molecular motors.
Ron Vale has a strong commitment to scientific outreach and to life science education in India. In 2006 he founded iBiology, a not-for-profit organization that produces and disseminates free online videos of leading biologists explaining their research and biological principles and training.
In 2008-09, along with a group of Indian life scientists, Vale established the Young Investigators Meeting, an annual gathering where postdocs and junior faculty in the life sciences in India can interact with one another and with leading Indian and international scientists. A year later, Vale launched IndiaBioscience as a year-round networking website and organization. In 2015, Ron Vale founded ASAPbio (Accelerating Science and Publication in Biology), which has grown into a not-for-profit organization to promote the use of preprints and an open and transparent peer review process.