Jan-Åke Gustafsson, M.D., Ph.D. - September 25, 7-8 p.m.

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“Hormones in Health and Disease”

While the hormone, estrogen, is essential for many of the body’s normal processes in both men and women, it also plays a role in diseases such as breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. In 1995, Dr. Gustafsson’s research group at Karolinska Institutet discovered that there are two estrogen receptors instead of one. The discovery of estrogen receptor beta (ER beta) was a huge step forward in understanding estrogen signaling because the two estrogen receptors (ER alpha and ER beta) elicit different and sometimes opposite actions. Dr. Gustafsson will discuss the impact of these discoveries, including the development of drugs that interact specifically with ER alpha or ER beta, and the potential for medicines – anti-cancer agents – which exert the favorable effects of ER beta.


Jan-Åke Gustafsson, M.D., Ph.D.
Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry
Director, Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling
University of Houston

As director of the University of Houston's Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling, Dr. Jan-Åke Gustafsson leads a research team focused on developing new treatments for an array of significant diseases including cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and degenerative neurologic diseases.

Dr. Gustafsson’s current role builds on the success of his research group at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, where he for many years performed breakthrough research on a family of important regulatory molecules called nuclear receptors. He is credited with the discovery of a previously unknown estrogen receptor that plays a vital role in the function of the brain, mammary glands, colon, prostate and immune system.

He holds an M.D. and a Ph.D. from the Karolinska Institutet and is a member of a number of professional societies and organizations, including the Swedish Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

Dr. Gustafsson has been honored with a large number of awards, including the Gregory Pincus Medal and Award, the European Medal (British Society for Endocrinology), the Bristol-Meyers Squibb/Mead Johnson Award for Nutrition Research, the Fred Conrad Koch Award (Endocrine Society USA), the Geoffrey Harris Prize, the Award of Merit (Princess Takamatsu Cancer Research Fund, Tokyo, Japan), the Grand Nordic Fernström Prize (University of Lund, Sweden), and the Grand Silver Medal of the Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden).