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USciences Bicentennial Symposium

Sponsored by Gilead Sciences

Join us for a special virtual lecture series featuring science and healthcare’s best and brightest minds speaking on future advances.

Saturday, October 23, 2021 
No registration is required for this on-demand, virtual presentation.


Links to presentations will be provided on this page on the day of the event.

  • Dr. Phil Baran, Scripps Research
  • Dr. Tracy Johnson, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Dr. Paul A. Offit, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Dr. James M. Wilson, University of Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Phil Needleman, Washington University School of Medicine

About the Speakers

Phil BaranDr. Phil Baran, Scripps Research

Phil Baran, PhD, is professor in the Department of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Baran, originally from Denville NJ, received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from New York University in 1997 and a PhD from The Scripps Research Institute in 2001. He previously worked as a NIH-postdoctoral fellow at  Harvard University. Dr. Baran has published over 220 scientific articles, several patents, and has been the recipient of several ACS awards. In 2013 he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. In 2016 he was awarded the Blavatnik National Award, and in 2017, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, USA.  He has delivered hundreds of lectures around the world and consults for numerous companies. The Baran laboratory is committed to identifying areas of chemical synthesis that can have a dramatic impact on the rate of drug discovery and development. Outside of the lab, Phil enjoys spending time with his wife Ana and three young children (Lucia, Leah, and Manuel).

Tracy JohnsonDr. Tracy Johnson, University of California Los Angeles

Tracy Johnson, PhD, is the Dean of Life Sciences and the Keith and Cecilia Terasaki Presidential Endowed Chair in the Life Sciences at University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSD, her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley, and was a Jane Coffin Childs postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) where she studied the mechanisms of RNA splicing with John Abelson. Dr. Johnson's research is focused on the mechanisms of eukaryotic RNA processing, particularly pre-messenger RNA splicing. Her lab has most recently been interested in the coordination of these reactions with RNA synthesis and chromatin modification. Dr. Johnson is the recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and serves on a number of scientific boards and federal Grant Review panels. In 2013 was selected as one of the Top 20 Women Professors in California. In 2014, Dr. Johnson was named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor. As one of 15 leading scientist-educators, the distinction recognizes leadership in research and education, and provides $1 million over five years to create innovative activities that integrate research with undergraduate education.

Phil NeedlemanDr. Phil Needleman, Washington University School of Medicine

Phil Needleman, PhD, is a former Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Needleman received his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and master’s degree in pharmacology from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, and his PhD in pharmacology from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis, where he joined the faculty in 1967, and later became Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology. In 1989 he became senior vice president of Monsanto. In 1993 he became president of Searle Research and Development. He served as senior executive vice president and chief scientist of Pharmacia from 2000 to 2003. In 2004 he served as Associate Dean for Special Projects at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis. He is currently a member of the Washington University Board of Trustees and chairs the Medical School National Council. Dr. Needleman’s research focuses on two main areas. His studies of the regulation of vascular, cardiac, and renal function led to the discovery of: first pass drug metabolism; the mechanism of organic nitrate tolerance; the first peptide angiotensin receptor antagonists; and the atrial natriuretic factor (the hormone by which the heart communicates with the kidney, adrenals, blood vessels and brain). His second area of research was on the role of prostaglandins in arthritis, an area in which he made multiple contributions culminating in the discovery of Cox-2, the isoform of cyclooxygenase responsible for the inflammation and pain suffered by arthritis patients. His work at Monsanto/Searle resulted in the 1998 FDA approval of Celebrex.

Paul OffitDr. Paul A. Offit, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Paul A. Offit, MD, is Director of the Vaccine Education Center and attending physician in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He is also the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Offit is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of virology and immunology, and was a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He is a member of the Food and Drug Administration Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, and a founding advisory board member of the Autism Science Foundation and the Foundation for Vaccine Research, a member of the Institute of Medicine and co-editor of the foremost vaccine text, Vaccines. He is a recipient of many awards including the J. Edmund Bradley Prize for Excellence in Pediatrics from the University of Maryland Medical School, the Young Investigator Award in Vaccine Development from the Infectious Disease Society of America, a Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health, and the Sabin Vaccine Institute Gold Medal. Dr. Offit has published more than 150 papers in medical and scientific journals in the areas of rotavirus-specific immune responses and vaccine safety. He is also the co-inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaTeq®, recommended for universal use in infants by the CDC. 

James WilsonDr. James M. Wilson, University of Pennsylvania 

James M. Wilson, MD, PhD, is Director of the Gene Therapy Program and the Rose H. Weiss Professor and Director of the Orphan Disease Center. Dr. Wilson is a Professor in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania where he has led an effort to develop the field of gene therapy. Dr. Wilson earned his medical degree from University of Michigan and completed training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. After launching his faculty career at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Michigan, he moved to University of Pennsylvania in 1993. His research career spanning over 40 years has focused on rare diseases and ways to treat them by gene therapy. Dr. Wilson has published over 600 papers and is named on over 200 patents worldwide. The Wilson lab identified a new type of vector based on novel isolates of adeno-associated viruses which have become best in class for gene therapy. At this time, there are more than 80 preclinical and over 40 clinical programs that use Wilson’s AAV vectors. More recently Dr. Wilson’s laboratory has focused on improved vectors for gene therapy and clinical applications of genome editing and mRNA therapy.


Kim Barkhamer
Associate Vice President
Institutional Advancement


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