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Prizewinning biology researcher to give Cisler Lecture March 20

Release Date: February 2, 2018

A world-renowned biochemistry researcher who has dedicated his career to discovering the inner workings of cells and proteins will deliver the 2018 Walker L. Cisler Lecture March 20 at Lawrence Technological University. 

Peter Walter is a professor of biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Peter Walter. Photo by Christinewalterlab

Peter Walter. Photo by Christinewalterlab via Wikimedia Commons.


Walter’s topic will be “From Protein Folding to Cognition: The Serendipitous Path of Discovery.” He will discuss how disappointments in research can lead to unexpected outcomes of good fortune. 

The Cisler Lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 20 in the Mary E. Marburger Science and Engineering Auditorium of LTU’s Science Building (see www.ltu.edu/map). The event is free and open to the public. 

Born in Berlin, Germany during the Cold War, Walter earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the Free University of Berlin in 1976, then moved to the United States, where he earned a Master of Science in organic chemistry from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. In 1977, and a Ph.D. in cell biology from The Rockefeller University in New York City in 1981. 

His research has concentrated on how cells process and fold proteins. Improperly folded proteins have been implicated in diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s to cancer. 

Walter has received numerous scientific awards and prizes, including, in 2015, the Vilcek Prize, which honors the work of immigrant scientists and artists. In a 2015 interview in The New York Times, Walter said he moved to the United States because of its academic freedom and the opportunity to innovate. “Vanderbilt was a revelation,” Walter told the Times. “At the laboratory of Professor Tom Harris, I was allowed to do real research. Here I was, this lowly exchange student, and I was given use of the most expensive equipment and complete freedom to design my own experiments. And so, when one of the Vanderbilt trustees suggested I apply for my doctoral studies to Rockefeller University, where the students were free to design their own curriculum, I didn’t hesitate.” 

Walter was an assistant professor at The Rockefeller University before moving to UCSF in 1983. His work with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute began in 1997. 

The Walker L. Cisler lecture series was founded at LTU with a generous gift from the Holley Foundation.

Well known for his leadership of the Detroit Edison Co. from 1954 to 1971, Walker L. Cisler enjoyed a career that spanned a lifetime of personal, professional, civic, and business accomplishments. As an international ambassador for the American electric utility industry, he worked closely with heads of state both here and abroad. As a tireless, dedicated humanitarian, he strived to improve the quality of life for people everywhere.

For more information on the event, visit www.ltu.edu/cisler.


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