PULLMAN, Wash. — “DNA Repair: Protecting Cells from Chaos and Cancer”
is the topic of Washington State University molecular biosciences professor
Michael Smerdon’s Feb. 17 Distinguished Faculty Address. The 7:30 p.m.
public talk is set for Daggy Hall’s R.R. Jones Theatre.
According to those who nominated him to present the talk, Smerdon is
internationally known for his contributions to the understanding of DNA
damage and repair. One nominator said Smerdon is considered the leading
expert on how chromatin structure affects the introduction of DNA damage
and its repair in eukaryotes.
“Dr. Smerdon’s work is intimately linked to cancer prevention and issues of the
environment,” a nominator said. “For this reason, his research has been
supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences for more
than 20 years.”
Early in his career, the National Institutes of Health honored Smerdon with a
Young Environmental Scientist Award (1978-81) and a Research Career
Development Award (1982-87). He is currently funded by two long-standing
NIH grants, one in year 20, the other in year 13, for nearly $500,000 in direct
Smerdon was recently appointed to the editorial board of the Journal of
Biological Chemistry, one of the most important biochemistry journals in the
world, and was elected by his peers to serve as vice chair and chair of the
prestigious and selective Gordon Research Conference in DNA Repair. He has
served on scientific review boards for the Pacific Northwest National
Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratories.
In addition, Smerdon has been active in developing interactions between
PNNL, WSU and the Spokane medical community to further common interests
in cancer prevention and the problems of environmentally induced cancers. An
important development was the first Inland Northwest Cancer Conference, held
Nov. 5-6, 1999. Smerdon served on the conference’s program committee.
Nominators also cite “the yeomen service” Smerdon has given in helping
young cancer researchers at WSU get their research programs established by
being a reviewer on the American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant
Committee for more than 10 years.
“His sincere willingness to contribute has been important to the quality of this
American Cancer Society program and to cancer research at the university,”
the nominators added.
The highly rated instructor and scientist has trained three master’s students,
nine doctoral students and 10 postdoctoral researchers in his 19 years at WSU.
Smerdon also received WSU’s Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Research
in 1997 and the College of Science’s Distinguished Faculty Award in 1999.
The Distinguished Faculty Address series honors a WSU faculty member by
inviting the individual to address the community on a topic related to his/her
academic work. Lecturers are selected based on national/international
distinction for original contributions to their discipline; receipt of extramural
support; national/international service; and achievements in education. The
recognition also carries a $2,500 award.
Smerdon is the 66th faculty member selected for the honor since it began as
the Invited Address series in 1958.