Student Meetings and Events

Nov 11, 2019



Event Description

with R. Sanders Williams ’70

Former President, Gladstone Institutes

By invitation only.

About the Speaker

As a scholar and scientist, Dr. Williams discovered genes, proteins and pathways that control development, proliferation, cell size and differentiation of cardiac and skeletal muscle cells (myocytes). His laboratory defined basic principles of how these cells adapt to changing physiological demands associated with exercise or disease states.

Dr. Williams served on the faculty of Duke University and of the University of Texas before assuming the role of Dean of the School of Medicine at Duke in 2001. He was promoted to Senior Vice Chancellor in 2007 and took on the leadership of the University’s global strategy in 2008. Through February 2010, he was the Richard and Patricia Johnson University Professor, Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Advisor for International Strategy at Duke University. Dr. Williams led the Duke School of Medicine during a period notable for its ascendance from 11th to 2nd in the national rankings of NIH-grant support, a near doubling of its annual budget to more than $800 million, the addition of six new academic buildings, the first appointments of department chairs who are female or African-American and the founding of successful multidisciplinary institutes in genome sciences, brain sciences, global health and translational medicine. He was founding Dean of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School of Singapore and lead negotiator for major Duke programs in China and elsewhere. As an educator, he has been active in classroom teaching and has served as primary mentor to more than 40 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.

Dr. Williams has served as president of professional societies, on editorial boards of leading academic journals such as Science, and on the Director’s Advisory Committee of the National Institutes of Health and the Board of External Advisors to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. He is active in promoting academic-industry relationships in the public interest and serves on the board of directors for the Laboratory Corporation of America. He has been honored by election to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Alpha Omega Alpha, the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science and for the California Academy of Science. In 2005 he received the Pioneer Award from the Samuel Dubois Cook Society for his work on behalf of social justice.

Dr. Williams was educated and received postdoctoral training in public and international affairs, internal medicine, cardiology, biochemistry and molecular biology at Princeton University, Duke University, Harvard University (Massachusetts General Hospital), Oxford University and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

Research Achievements:

  • Co-founded the Center for Biomedical Invention, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, to translate discoveries in cell and molecular biology into useful medical therapeutics.
  • Defined basic principles of how skeletal and cardiac muscle cells adapt to changing physiological demands associated with exercise or disease states.
  • Discovered a novel transcription factor that modulates important steps in the transitions of adult myogenic stem cells to and from quiescence during muscle regeneration.
  • Characterized other proteins and pathways that modulate proliferation and differentiation of myogenic stem cells, hypertrophic growth of the heart, mitochondrial biogenesis and fiber type–specific gene expression in skeletal muscles.
  • Defined features of calcium-dependent gene regulation in myocyte plasticity.