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Distinguished Lectureships

Cecile M. Pickart Memorial Lecture

Cecile Pickart

Cecile Pickart earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, graduating summa cum laude, in 1976. An accomplished musician, she worked part-time through college as a classical bassist. In 1982 she earned her doctorate in biochemistry from Brandeis University, where she trained with noted enzymologist William Jencks.

Pickart began her studies on the enzymology of ubiquitin as a postdoctoral researcher with Irwin Rose at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. In 1982, when she began her postdoctoral work, very little was known about the ubiquitin system—but her discoveries laid the biochemical and intellectual foundation for subsequent find­ings that revealed a complex network of enzymes that act in different combinations to achieve controlled attachment of ubiquitin to specific targets. She also elucidated the enzymology underlying the deconju­gation of ubiquitin from target proteins.

In 1985, Pickart founded her own laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry at the State University of New York, Buffalo. In 1995 she joined the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, where she continued to make groundbreaking discoveries about ubiquitin. In 2006, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Highly regarded by her colleagues as an exceptionally talented and dedicated scientist, Pickart was widely sought as an organizer of and speaker at international scientific conferences. Beyond her scientific achievements, Pickart was exceedingly generous with her time and advice. She was greatly in demand as a member of student advisory committees and was central in the mentoring of junior faculty, both in her own Department and in the ubiquitin field.

In 2006, Pickart died at the age of 51 after a long battle with kidney cancer.


May 22, 2023

Vishva Dixit, MD
Genentech Inc.
"Why So Many Ways for Cells to Die?"

May 13, 2019

Rachel E. Klevit, PhD
University of Washington School of Medicine
"Twenty years of Ubiquitin: Mysteries revealed, mysteries remain"

April 23, 2018

James Shorter, MA, PhD
University of Pennsylvania
"Reversing aberrant phase transitions connected to ALS/FTD"

February 1, 2016

Judith Frydman, PhD
Stanford University
"Molecular Origami: Protein Folding and Misfolding in Health and Disease"

May 7, 2013

Aaron Ciechanover, MD, DSc
Distinguished Research Professor and Nobel Laureate
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
"The Ubiquitin System and Intercellular Proteolysis: From the Backyard to the Forefront of Biomedical Research"

April 24, 2012

Mark Hochstrasser, PhD
Yale University
"In Vivo Assembly of the Machinery for Ubiquitin-Dependent Protein Degradation"

April 26, 2011

Cynthia Wolberger, PhD
Johns Hopkins University
"Structural Insights into Ubiquitin Signaling"

April 16, 2010

Zhijian "James" Chen, PhD
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
"Ubiquitin Signaling in Immune Defense"


Robert T. Sauer, PhD
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Machines of Protein Destruction"