MIT model explains how the brain can learn novel tasks while still remembering what it has already learned.
Institute Professors Jerome I. Friedman and Phillip A. Sharp, director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, will share the podium for the sixth Ford/MIT Nobel Laureate Lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium. They will discuss "Defining the Boundaries: Homeland Security and its Impact on Scientific Research."
Friedman shared the 1990 Nobel Prize for physics with the late Professor Henry W. Kendall, also of MIT, and Richard E. Taylor of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Their work provided the first experimental evidence for the subnuclear particles called quarks.
Sharp shared the 1993 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for work that fundamentally changed scientists' understanding of the structure of genes. He and Richard J. Roberts of New England Biolabs were recognized for their independent discoveries that some of the genes of higher organisms are "split," or present in distinct segments along the DNA molecule.
"The threat of bioterrorism has led to national directives about restrictions on the possession and transfer of select biological organisms and pressure to consider restrictions on publication of science related to some aspects of infectious agents," Sharp said. "The best security against the use of biological agents by terrorists is dependent on a highly informed medical and public health community and continuation of vigorous research into infectious disease processes. The legitimate need for homeland security must not impede these advances."
Sharp joined the MIT faculty in 1974 as an associate professor in the Department of Biology and the Center for Cancer Research (CCR). He was the director of the CCR from 1985-91, when he became head of the Department of Biology. He received the James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award for 1993-94 and was named an Institute Professor in 1999.
Friedman joined the MIT faculty in 1960. He was director of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science from 1980-83 and head of the Department of Physics from 1983 -88. He was named an Institute Professor in 1991 and won the Killian Faculty Achievement Award in 2000-01.
"Science, which has enhanced our health, economic development and national security, can only thrive in an open environment," Friedman said. "How to make such an environment compatible with the needs of national security in an age of terrorism will take wisdom and a collaborative approach between the scientific community and the federal government."
The event will be broadcast by MIT Cable TV. The talk, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by a reception. The lecture series is sponsored by the Community Services Office.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 17, 2003.