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reed magazine logoMarch 2010

Eliot Circular Continued

Bio Prof Mentioned By Nobel Committee

Further Reading

Shampay J. How do the ends replicate? Trends in Biochemical Sciences. 35 (1) January 2010, 5-7 doi:10.1016/j.tibs.2009.

Shampay J, Szostak JW, Blackburn EH. DNA sequences of telomeres maintained in yeast. Nature. 1984 Jul 12–18;310(5973):154–7.

Biology professor Janis Shampay was elated in October when she heard that the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine had been awarded to three of her former colleagues, Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Jack W. Szostak, and Carol W. Greider, for their work on the mechanics of DNA replication, specifically how chromosomes protect themselves from deterioration following cell division.

This particular area of research has long been an interest of Shampay’s. In fact, she was the lead author of a 1984 Nature paper on the subject—a paper that was cited by the Nobel Committee in its commendation—together with Blackburn, who was her PhD adviser at UC Berkeley, and Szostak, their collaborator.

“We weren’t trying to cure cancer,” Shampay explains. “We were trying to understand this perplexing problem of how chromosomes replicate.”

Stripped to its essentials, the problem was that the reigning biological model implied that DNA should fray after replication—progressively shortening the chromosome with each division. Yet somehow chromosomes resist this deterioration. Shampay, Szostak, and Blackburn provided key observations and were the first to propose the existence of a hitherto unknown enzyme that repaired the damage to the DNA. The missing enzyme—now known as telomerase—was found the next year by Greider, and has since opened the door to a vast area of research with potential implications for understanding both cancer and cellular senescence (that’s aging to non-bio majors). Today, Shampay is characteristically modest about her role in the discovery of telomerase, but says the awarding of the Nobel Prize to her former colleagues is a “thrilling development.”

RAW Energy


Alchemy is the theme for Reed Arts Week 2010.

Twenty years after its founding, Reed Arts Week is still going strong. This year’s theme is Alchemy—an invitation to transform everyday objects and experiences through imagination, mad science, and sublime, transcendent vision. New York artist Jonah Freeman will transform the library, Eliot Hall, and other spaces around campus into labyrinths filled with mystic symbols, ritual artifacts, scientific instruments, all evoking “alchemy in a modern context”—a proliferation of spiritual, cultural and scientific cues embedded within a sprawling, interactive space. Tonalism, a 12-hour ambient musical happening will be presented by the Los Angeles radio collective Dublab. The week runs March 3–7. Find out more at

New Trustees Join Board

Reed welcomes two new trustees.

Jan R. Liss ’74 is the executive director of Project Pericles, a non-profit that promotes social responsibility and participatory citizenship. She previously served as associate director of the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program and was vice president of strategic planning for Consumers Union (publisher of Consumer Reports). Jan earned her BA in psychology and her MBA from Yale University in 1981. She was a Tenenbaum Leadership Initiative Fellow in 2008 at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy and she is a board member at College and Community Fellowship. Jan has served on Reed’s New York campaign committee; she has also served as an Annual Fund reunion gift chair, admission volunteer, and has participated in the alumni college. Jan’s husband, Jim Coddington ’74, is the chief conservator for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Jan and Jim live in Eastchester, New York. Jan will serve as alumni trustee until spring 2012.

David M. Gossett ’91 is a partner with Mayer Brown LLP in Washington, DC, where his practice focuses on Supreme Court and appellate litigation. He earned his BA in psychology, his MA from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993, and his JD from the University of Chicago in 1997. David is a co-founder and executive editor of the Green Bag, a quarterly law journal; a member of the American Law Institute; and a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He serves on the National Advisory Council of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Amicus Brief Advisory Committee for the Constitution Project, the University of Chicago Law School’s Alumni Admissions Committee, and the Executive Council of the Lawyers’ Committee for the Shakespeare Theatre. David has served on Reed’s alumni board, alumni chapter steering committee, and class reunion committee; he has also served as Annual Fund reunion gift chair and admission volunteer. His wife, Dena Ringold, is a senior economist at the World Bank. David will serve as alumni trustee until 2013.

Although many of Reed’s trustees are alumni, the so-called “alumni trustees” are recommended to the board by the alumni association and typically serve four-year, non-renewable terms. The two other alumni trustees are Sheldon Hochheiser ’73 and Steve Falk ’83.

reed magazine logoMarch 2010