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Noted chemist to discuss how metals can treat disease

Oct. 5, 2009

KALAMAZOO--A chemist with a broad background in the relationship between metals and biology and how metals can be used to treat cancer and other diseases will give presentations on Thursday, Oct. 8, and Friday, Oct. 9, at Western Michigan University as part of the Fourth Annual Harmon Lectureship Series.

Dr. James C. Dabrowiak, professor of chemistry at Syracuse University and a WMU alumnus, will speak on "Metals and Medicine" at 5 p.m. Thursday and "The Role of Carbonate in the Mechanism of Action on Cisplatin and Carboplatin" at 4 p.m. Friday. Both lectures are in Room 1720 of the WMU Chemistry Building.

Dabrowiak's main research interests have focused on the interactions of metals with biologically important molecules. Most notable is his research on the action of platinum-based anticancer drugs. His laboratory also pioneered the development of quantitative footprinting analysis for studying the sequence specificity of drugs interacting with DNA and RNA.

Dabrowiak served as a consultant for Bristol Myers Squibb during the development of platinum drugs and later was an expert consultant to various legal firms on the chemistry of platinum antitumor agents. In 1985 he was an American Cancer Society Scholar studying at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Gottingen, Germany.

Dabrowiak earned his doctoral degree from WMU in 1970, working with Dr. Dean Cooke, WMU professor emeritus of chemistry, on the synthesis and characterization of cobalt-amino acid complexes. Following post-doctoral research at Ohio State University he joined the faculty at Syracuse University.

The Harmon Lectureship series was established by the Department of Chemistry in honor of Dr. Robert E. Harmon, a longtime professor at WMU. The lectureship was created to provide opportunities for students, faculty and the community to interact with outstanding researchers from all areas of chemistry.

Dabrowiak's visit here is through the Visiting Scholars and Artists Program. The program was established in 1960 to contribute to the intellectual life of WMU and the community by providing funds for academic units to bring distinguished scholars and artists to campus. In addition to meeting with faculty and students, these scholars address the community at large. Since its inception, it has supported more than 600 visits by scholars and artists representing more than 60 academic disciplines.

The chair of the committee that oversees the program is Dr. Elke Schoffers, associate professor of chemistry. For more information, contact her at elke.schoffers@wmich.edu or (269) 387-2265.

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Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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