Introduction of the Lecture

This year’s awardees of the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, Professor Ian R Gibbons and Professor Ronald D Vale, have discovered the microtubule-associated motor proteins: engines that power cellular and intracellular movements essential to the growth, division, and survival of human cells.

Movement is a fundamental attribute of life. The contraction of muscle, the beating of cilia and flagella, the segregation of genetic material during cell division, and intracellular transport of membranes, proteins and mRNAs are all examples of biological motility. Biological motion is driven by protein machines (10-50 nanometers in size) that convert a chemical energy source (adenosine triphosphate) into unidirectional motion along a biological polymer (microtubules or actin filaments). The two laureates have studied kinesin and dynein, the two different types of motors that move along microtubule tracks. This Lecture will begin with a historical perspective of the experiments that led to the discovery of kinesin, then present what the two laureates know about how kinesin and dynein move along microtubules, and finally discuss how molecular motors impact human health.

* A recorded video interview with Professor Ian R Gibbons on his award-winning discovery will be shown during the Lecture.


Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, HKU