Thomas Cech, Ph.D **
Cech received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1989 along with Sidney Altman of Yale University for their independent discovery that RNA (ribonucleic acid) in living cells can function as an enzyme, a biocatalyst that facilitates a chemical change without being changed itself. Prior to their findings, all enzymes were thought to be proteins. By uncovering this additional property of RNA, Cech and Altman challenged the basic understanding of how genetic information contained in DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) creates proteins to carry out life functions. The result has been to open exciting new avenues of research leading to applications of gene technology in diverse fields such as medicine and agriculture.
A graduate of Grinnell College in Iowa, Cech earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California–Berkeley in 1975 and completed postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He joined the University of Colorado faculty in 1978. In 1988, Cech became an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a philanthropic organization that supports biomedical research and science education.
Cech’s visit to OSU is sponsored by the Office of Research as part of the University Research Lecture Series.
** Photo by Paul Fetters