Metaphors marked the fifth annual symposium of University of Delaware faculty explaining the work done by the most recent Nobel Laureates, with the research in medicine compared to the defensive line of a football team, the work of the prize in chemistry similar to mosaic tiles and the prize in literature awarded to a renowned Swedish poet for his "condensed, translucent images [that create] fresh access to reality."
The Oct. 21 session of the two-part symposium, which will continue with three speakers on Friday, Oct. 28, was sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and included faculty experts who explained the work of this year's winners.
"This symposium is not simply a way to recognize a few people and ideas that earned a big prize, but it's part of a larger effort to facilitate discussion of emerging new ideas in all fields and share our knowledge about them across the University community," said George Watson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Physiology or medicine
Catherine Grimes, an assistant professor in chemistry and biochemistry, spoke on the work of the three laureates in physiology or medicine -- Bruce A. Beautler, Jules A. Hoffman and Ralph Steinman. She compared their research in innate and adaptive responses in the immune system to football players who must "identify, recognize and respond" to an attack.
While the three laureates worked independently, their work informed each other, and Grimes explained how they discovered the ways in which the innate and adaptive phases of the immune responses are activated, thereby providing novel insights in disease mechanisms.
"I thank them for providing us a whole new playbook on treating autoimmune diseases," said Grimes, whose own research uses the work of the laureates to examine how mammalian cells recognize and respond to the presence of a pathogen.