The 2019 “Marija Dokmanovic-Chouinard Memorial Lectureship”
Delivered by Nicholas Katsanis, PhD

Congratulations to Nicholas Katsanis, PhD, the Jean and George W. Brumley, Jr., M.D. Professor of Developmental Biology at Duke University who delivered the “Marija Dokmanovic-Chouinard Memorial Lectureship” at the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center on May 19th. Dr. Katsanis is the director of the Center for Human Disease Modeling (CHDM) which develops and deploys a broad range of in vitro and in vivo tools to understand the fundamental pathological mechanisms of human genetic disease.

Recently, he moved the CHDM to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University where he will be Associate Chief Research Officer of the Manne Children’s Institute and Professor of Pediatrics and Cell and Molecular Biology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Dr. Katsanis delivered the lecture, “Obesity candidate genes in model organisms.”

Dr. Katsanis obtained his degree in genetics from University College London and his PhD from Imperial College, London. He completed his postdoctoral work at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, where he first worked on the genetics of Down syndrome and then initiated his studies on the genetic and molecular basis of Bardet- Biedl syndrome. He worked for seven years at the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In 2009, he moved to Duke University to establish the CHDM.

The Katsanis lab at Duke University pursued questions centered on the signaling roles of vertebrate cilia, the translation of signaling pathway defects on the causality and possible treatment of ciliary disorders.

The lecture series was established in memory of Marija Dokmanovic-Chouinard, who was a graduate student and then a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Rudolph L. Leibel, MD, the Christopher J. Murphy Professor of Diabetes Research in the Departments of Pediatrics and Medicine, Co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center and head of the Division of Molecular Genetics. Sadly, she passed away in 2006 shortly after giving birth to her daughter, Lily. Marija was a brilliant scientist and wonderful warm human being.

Following Marija’s tragic death, the Institute of Human Nutrition (IHN) at Columbia University and the Department of Pediatrics Division of Molecular Genetics established the "Marija Chouinard Award for Excellence in Research" for the best student presentation at the annual IHN retreat. In addition, with support from the Dokmanovic family, the IHN and the Division of Molecular Genetics sponsors the “Marija Dokmanovic-Chouinard Memorial Lectureship” each year that honors a distinguished researcher in diabetes and obesity since 2010.

In the photo (left to right) are Dr. Rudy Leibel (Marija's mentor), and Nicholas Katsanis, PhD.

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