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RISE Hosts Nobel Laureate Sir Richard Roberts

The Center for Research in Informatics, Sciences, and Engineering (RISE) hosted distinguished Nobel Laureate Sir Richard Roberts as part of the RISE Lecture Series at the American University of Kuwait (AUK) on April 2nd. Sir Richard Roberts, 1993 winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, spoke about his success and how he became interested in science at his talk "The Path to the Nobel Prize". The talk was organized in collaboration with the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS).

RISE is AUK's primary source for research and development activities, a bridge to industry and a platform for community outreach. The RISE Lecture Series seeks to bring local and international experts from a wide variety of disciplines to give talks and workshops at AUK. Dr. Rawda Awwad, Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, introduced Sir Roberts to the attendees and explained why the lecture was both; timely and important. "His presentation comes at a time when knowledge - the acquisition and the creation of new bodies of knowledge - is vital for our communal, regional, and global growth; for progress and constructive change," she said.

Sir Roberts spoke to the audience about his early involvement with science and how he became interested in science and problem solving, including his fateful discovery of the book The Thread of Life: An Introduction to Molecular Biology by John Kendrew - the book that would inspire his Nobel Prize-winning work. He emphasized the value of hard work, but also the role of luck in a successful career; Sir Roberts believes he owes much of his scientific success to "doing the right experiments at the right time."

The lecture walked the audience through Sir Roberts' life, from early childhood to his research today at New England Biolabs. In the question and answer session following the lecture, Sir Roberts encouraged the students in the audience to find their passion and follow it, no matter what others may say, and to look at failure as a doorway to discovery. He also stressed that innovation should be shared in the scientific community. "I want to make that discovery, but I would be equally happy if any one of you did," he added. Sir Roberts is currently studying methylation in bacteria and using his scientific expertise for a variety of humanitarian projects.

Dr. Amir Zeid, Director of RISE, expressed the level of importance the lecture carries for RISE. "The lecture of Sir Richard is the highlight of the RISE international lecture series for the academic year 2014-2015. I am pleased to see such a diverse audience engagement in a positive way. Among the audience we had people from different private universities, Kuwait University, schools and general public. We are looking forward to have similar events and collaboration with other research institutes in the future."

Sir Richard Roberts is the winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (with Phillip Sharp) for his ground-breaking discovery of split genes. Roberts was also instrumental in isolating most of the world's first known restriction enzymes. As a pioneer in this field, requests for lists of these enzymes came flooding in, eventually leading to the formation of a database named REBASE (Restriction Enzyme dataBASE), containing a listing of not only all the restriction-modification enzyme systems, but also the genes encoding these.

Sir Richard was educated in chemistry at Sheffield University and molecular biology at Harvard University. He worked for 20 years at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where his group discovered RNA splicing for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1993. In 1992 he moved to New England Biolabs as Director of eukaryotic research before becoming Chief Scientific officer in 2005. He has had a long-standing interest in bioinformatics, which most recently had been applied to his research on restriction enzymes.

The AUK Center for Research in Informatics, Sciences, and Engineering (RISE) serves as AUK's primary source for multidisciplinary research and development (R&D) activities. The Center employs a holistic approach to R&D by integrating academic disciplines, and forging connections between local & international innovators, academia & industry, and technology & society.

From left AUK President Dr. Nizar Hamzeh and Nobel Prize Winner, Sir Richard Roberts

Dr. Rawda Awwad, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Dr. Amir Zeid, Director of RISE Center

Sir Richard Roberts, Nobel Prize Winner

Group Photo featuring (from Left) Dr. Ali Charrara, Dr. Amir Zeid, President Hamzeh, Sir Richard, Dean Awwad, Dr. Neamat Mosaad, and Dr. Detlef Hummes

Images from the event

Released by the Office of Public Affairs on the 14th April 2015

Photography by the Office of Public Affairs (C) 2015

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