Campus News

Dr. Constance L. Cepko to deliver Lisman Memorial Lecture in Vision Science and receive award

Dr. Constance L. Cepko

Dr. Constance L. Cepko to deliver the John Lisman ’66 Memorial Lecture in Vision Science and receive award on April 9

Dr. Constance L. Cepko, the Bullard Professor of Genetics and Neuroscience, Departments of Genetics and Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will deliver the John Lisman ’66 Memorial Lecture in Vision Science, and will receive the award given in conjunction with the lecture from Brandeis University.

Dr. Cepko will lecture on “The Development of the Vertebrate Retina and Nanobodies as Regulators of Intracellular Activities” on Tuesday, April 9, at 12:30 p.m. in the Gerstenzang Science Library, Room 121.

Dr. Cepko received her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working with Phillip Sharp, and remained at MIT as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Richard Mulligan, where she was involved in the development of retrovirus-mediated gene transduction.

Her current research is focused on the development and diseases of the central nervous system, with an emphasis on the retina. Her laboratory uses molecular and cellular methods to address questions regarding the mechanisms of cell fate determination. They have also been developing gene therapy to prolong vision in genetic forms of blindness. By using genes that fight oxidative stress, the lab has prolonged vision in several mouse models or inherited retinal degeneration.

Dr. Cepko is a member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. She has received multiple awards for both her research and mentoring. Dr. Cepko has launched and directed two Ph.D. graduate programs and is currently serving as the co-director of the Leder Human Biology and Translational Medicine Program at Harvard.

Refreshments will be served before the lecture, beginning at 12:15 p.m.

Past winners of the award include David Fitzpatrick, Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience; David Williams, University of Rochester; William Newsome, Stanford University; Richard Masland, Harvard University; Gordon Fain, University of California, Los Angeles; Michael Stryker, University of California, San Francisco; Peter Schiller, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Jay and Maureen Neitz, University of Washington; and Frank Werblin, a leading retina researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.

Formerly called the Jay Pepose ’75 Award in Vision Sciences, the name was changed in 2017 to memorialize John Lisman ’66, who earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Brandeis in 1966. He went on to earn a doctorate in physiology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University under Nobel Laureate George Wald. He returned to Brandeis in 1974 as an assistant professor and then a full professor in 1987.

John contributed an immense amount to the sciences at his alma mater, in the classroom and in the lab. He was an integral force behind the Pepose Award, from his work in selecting the recipients to his role as host of the lecture and dinner each year.

The award continues to be funded by a $1 million endowment established in 2009 through a gift from Jay Pepose ’75, MA’75, P’08, P’17, and his wife, Susan K. Feigenbaum ’74, P’08, P’17, through the Midwest Vision Research Foundation. The endowment also supports graduate research fellowships in vision science.

Pepose is the founder and medical director of the Pepose Vision Institute in St. Louis and a professor of clinical ophthalmology at Washington University. He founded and serves as board president of the Lifelong Vision Foundation, which has recently been renamed the Midwest Vision Research Foundation.

The mission of this foundation is to preserve lifelong vision for people in the St. Louis community, nationally and internationally through research, community programs and education programs.

He was part of the inaugural class of fellows of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology. While a student at Brandeis, he worked closely with John Lisman, who began his career at the University when Jay was an undergraduate. Jay was the first student to join John’s research group on campus. John was an influential mentor to him and they remained lifelong friends. Upon John’s passing in 2017, Jay and Susan changed the name of the vision science award to honor his memory.

Categories: Campus News
Date: March 28, 2019