Since 1925 UCLA has honored its most distinguished scholars by selecting them to deliver this special annual lecture. By honoring them in this way, members of the academic community have an opportunity to appreciate these scholars' achievements in a way they may not have otherwise had.
Steven G. Clarke, a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is an authority on the biochemistry of the aging process and how protein modification can regulate biological function. A UCLA faculty member since 1978, Clarke is proud to say that he has had a 43-year relationship with the campus. Starting in 1966, when he was an undergraduate at Pomona College in Claremont, he spent his summers at UCLA working as a lab assistant for Professor Don Lindsley, a brain researcher who happened to be the 1960 Faculty Research Lecturer.
In the 107th Faculty Research Lecture, “Aging and Rejuvenation:
Chemistry and Biology at Work,” Clarke focuses on the fascinating
dichotomy between two crucial disciplines: chemistry and biology. “I’m
going to talk about aging as ‘warfare’ between chemistry
and biology,” he said. “Chemistry is the ‘bad guy’
that results in spontaneous degradation of molecules that make us up.
Biology fights back and tries to build them up again.”
“I have a message,” Clarke said, smiling. “You know
when you get out of a Broadway show, and you’re whistling the
tune from the overture? This is the tune that I want the audience to
whistle: that in aging, it’s basically the forces of chemistry
that are degrading us, and the forces of biology that are building us
up. And the crucial thing is, we can’t stop the chemistry.
From Wendy Soderburg, UCLA Today