posted April 17, 2013

Dennis A. Dougherty of California Institute of Technology to Speak

Dr. Dennis A. Dougherty, who is the George Grant Hoag Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, will present two addresses at Hope College on Thursday-Friday, April 18-19, while on campus through the James and Jeanette Neckers Lectureship in Chemistry.

He will deliver the address “Chemistry on the Brain: Understanding the Nicotine Receptor” on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m.  He will present “The Cation-π Interaction in Chemistry and Biology” on Friday, April 19, at 4 p.m. Both addresses will be in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.

The public is invited to both events.  Admission is free.

Dougherty’s research is focused on molecular neurobiology, applying the mindset and tools of physical organic chemistry to the complex proteins of neuroscience. Target receptors include the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, the 5-HT3 (serotonin) receptor, and voltage-gated ion channels. Through these efforts, he has produced fundamental insights into drug-receptor interactions, including cation-π interactions, which were discovered and elucidated in the Dougherty labs.

Dougherty is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He has received numerous awards, including the Biopolymers Murray Goodman Award, the ACS James Flack Norris Award for Physical Organic Chemistry, the Hoffmann Medal of the University of Zurich, the Tolman Medal, the AstraZeneca Excellence in Chemistry Award and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and has been designated a Javits Neuroscience Investigator by the National Institutes of Health. He is also the co-author, with Professor Eric Anslyn, of the influential textbook, “Modern Physical Organic Chemistry.”

The James and Jeanette Neckers Lectureship and Student Assistance Fund through which Dougherty is speaking was established in 1984 by Dr. James W. and Jeanette Hoffman Neckers, members of the college’s Class of 1923, to support annual lectureships in chemistry. Through additional gifts from Dr. Neckers, the fund was expanded to include student summer research stipends and student scholarships.

James Neckers was chairman of the Department of Chemistry at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale for 37 of his 40 years at the university. Under his leadership, the department grew from a three-year offering in chemistry to granting the doctorate; the faculty grew from three to 23. Jeanette Neckers died on June 10, 1992, and James Neckers died on May 8, 2004.

Graves Hall is located at 263 College Ave., facing College Avenue between 10th and 12th streets.