Symposium to Honor Temple Smith on Sept. 25

Professor Temple Smith
Professor Temple Smith

Colleagues from around Boston and around the world will gather on Friday, Sept. 25 for a symposium celebrating the appointment of Professor Temple Smith (BME) as Emeritus Professor of Biomedical Engineering. The symposium is titled “Frontiers in Biomolecular Engineering.”

A member of the College of Engineering faculty since 1991, Smith is co-developer of the influential Smith-Waterman sequence alignment algorithm, a well-known tool underlying most DNA and protein sequence comparisons. First proposed in 1981, the algorithm allows researchers to analyze and identify similar DNA, RNA and protein segments.

“Many people consider Temple as one of true pioneers for the field of bioinformatics as it applies to sequencing the genome,” said College of Engineering Dean Kenneth Lutchen. “At Boston University, Temple served as a crucial link to expand the portfolio of Biomedical Engineering to have an impact at the scale of genes and proteins. Indeed, his credentials as someone with degrees and training in the disciplines of physics and engineering in many ways legitimized the need of our program to embrace how much of an impact biomedical engineers can have to the field of systems biology.”

BME Chairman Professor Solomon Eisenberg also noted Smith’s role in bringing the study of biomolecular engineering to BU, adding, “He was the founding director of the Biomolecular Engineering Research Center at the time when it was highly unusual for this research direction to be housed in biomedical engineering departments.”

“A true testament to Temple’s influence on the field can be gauged by the roster of speakers at the symposium, most of who collaborated or trained with Temple over the years,” Eisenberg said.

The symposium will feature lectures by speakers from throughout the biomolecular engineering, bioinformatics and systems biology communities, including: George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of NIH-CEGS and DOE-GTL Genomics Centers; David J. Galas, senior vice president of Strategic Partnerships at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle; William M. Gelbart, professor of molecular and cellular biology at Harvard University; Roderic Guigó, coordinator for the bioinformatics and genomics program at the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona; Lee Hood, president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle; Richard H. Lathrop, professor of computer science at the University of California, Irvine; Stephen G. Sligar, I.C. Gunsalus professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Collin M. Stultz,W. M. Keck associate professor of biomedical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Michael Waterman, university professor at the University of Southern California; Teresa Webster, principal biostatistician with Affymetrix, Inc.; and Xiaolin Zhang, vice president and head of the AstraZeneca Innovation Center China.

Smith was also responsible for the first international conference on bioinformatics when he organized “Genes and Machines,” a first-of-its-kind symposium that brought together biologists, mathematicians and computer scientists from around the globe in 1986. His academic experience includes the BU School of Medicine, where he taught from 1992 to 2002; a position at the Harvard School of Public Health and in the Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology Department at Harvard Medical School, where he has taught since 1985; and Northern Michigan University, where he served as a physics professor from 1971 to 1985.

The symposium will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Boston University Photonics Building, Room 206. It is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, please click here.