Third Annual David Derse Memorial Lecture and Award

Anne Arthur
Three scientists at award presentation.

The Third Annual David Derse Memorial Lecture and Award presentation. From left: Stephen Hughes, Ph.D., director, HIV Drug Resistance Program; Hye Kyung Chung-Derse, Ph.D.; and Walther Mothes, Ph.D.

By Anne Arthur, Guest Writer

The Third Annual David Derse Memorial Lecture and Award presentation was held on Nov. 18 at NCI at Frederick to honor the outstanding research accomplishments of David Derse, Ph.D., and to stimulate the exchange of innovative ideas that Derse was well known for promoting throughout his scientific career.

This annual event is sponsored by the HIV Drug Resistance Program, with support from Hye Kyung Chung-Derse, Ph.D., NCI, the Foundation for NIH, and colleagues and friends of Derse who contributed to the memorial fund in his honor.

Derse, who died in 2009, was head of the Retrovirus Gene Expression Section, HIV Drug Resistance Program. During his 25 years at NCI, he investigated the molecular mechanisms of retrovirus infection and replication, concentrating most recently on the human viruses HIV-1 and HTLV-1

Walther Mothes, Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine, delivered the lecture, titled “Seeing Is Believing – Visualizing Individual Steps of the Retroviral Life Cycle.”

Mothes received a Ph.D. in cell biology at Humboldt University, Berlin, in 1998 for his studies on protein secretion and membrane protein integration at the endoplasmic reticulum, under the mentorship of Tom Rapoport, Ph.D., at Harvard Medical School. As a Jane Coffin Childs Fellow for Medical Research, Mothes completed his postdoctoral training on retroviral entry with John Young, Ph.D., and James Cunningham, M.D., before he started his own laboratory at Yale University in 2001. He was awarded a Hellman Family Fellowship in 2002 and a Searle Scholarship in 2003. Mothes was promoted to associate professor in 2007 and received tenure in 2011.

Mothes’ laboratory studies various aspects of viral spread and pathogenesis of HIV-1 and other retroviruses. Retroviruses can efficiently spread from cell to cell through contact zones, called virological and infectious synapses. The Mothes lab has contributed to understanding this process by directly visualizing the formation of cell–cell contacts between infected and uninfected cells, the polarization of virus assembly toward cell–cell contact sites, and the active transfer of viral infection to neighboring cells.

A major current interest of the laboratory is to monitor viral spread and aspects of retroviral pathogenesis directly in living animals using multiphoton laser scanning microscopy. The laboratory is also applying single-molecule imaging to understand how conformational events in the HIV-1 envelope protein lead to fusion between viral and cellular membranes. A detailed understanding of these processes will permit the rational design of vaccines and antiviral therapies that prevent viruses from spreading and the infection of new cells.

For more information about Mothes and his research program, see the Mothes Lab website.

A captioned videocast of the lecture and award presentation has been archived on the NIH Videocasting website; to view the videocast, click here.

Anne Arthur is the technical laboratory manager, HIV Drug Resistance Program.