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21st century medicine is topic for 12th annual Cornell Biotechnology Symposium on Oct. 15

Three advanced technologies are about to expand the horizons of health care, speakers at the 12th annual Cornell Biotechnology Symposium, "Frontiers in Biomedicine," will predict on Oct. 15 from 9 a.m. to 12:05 p.m. in the ground floor conference room of the Biotechnology Building at Cornell University. Topics include "A New Paradigm of Structure-based Drug Design Using Combinatorial Chemistry" by Gregory Petsko, the Markey Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at Brandeis University; "Gene Therapy: A Therapeutic Paradigm for the 21st Century" by Ronald Crystal, the Webster Professor of Internal Medicine at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center; and "Polymer Delivery Systems for Drugs, Proteins and Mammalian Cells" by Robert Langer, the Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"These techniques are highly experimental now, but at the rate biomedicine is progressing, they may be routine practice by early in the next century," said Milton Zaitlin, associate director of Cornell's Center for Advanced Technology in Biotechnology, which sponsors the symposium. "We've assembled some of the top people in their fields to tell us where biomedicine is headed next."

The symposium is supported by the New York State Science and Technology Foundation and by a consortium of industries and is free and open to the public. An afternoon poster session, from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Biotechnology Building atrium and conference room, will highlight research done at the Center for Advanced Technology.

Brandeis University's Petsko does research in the determination of protein three-dimensional structure and the relationship of structure to biological function, using X-ray crystallography and molecular dynamics simulations. He is the director of the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center at Brandeis.

Crystal, who also serves as professor of physiology and biophysics at Cornell's Graduate School of Medical Sciences, is a leader in the human gene therapy field. He was the first to use the adenovirus as a vehicle for in vivo gene therapy and the first to use human gene therapy to treat cystic fibrosis. In 1993 he founded GenVec Inc., a biotechnology company that uses adenovirus and herpes virus vectors for in vivo gene therapy.

At MIT, Langer has pioneered the field of controlled release systems for peptides, proteins and other macromolecules and has made seminal contributions to the areas of biomaterials, immobilized enzymes and angiogenesis inhibitors. He is the editor of the journal Biomaterials and a member of editorial boards of 12 other journals.