This lecture is dedicated to the memory of Donald “Buzz” Wassenberg, a Master’s degree candidate at San Diego State University at the time of his death in 1986. He died of cystic fibrosis at the age of 26. Buzz was an outstanding individual, both personally and professionally. He displayed an enthusiasm about life that was not dampened by the severe medical problems he faced. His approach to science was innovative and he generated an excitement regarding new experimental ideas and results.
Buzz had completed his laboratory research in Dr. Sandy Bernstein’s laboratory and had begun writing his thesis prior to his death. SDSU awarded his Master’s degree posthumously at the spring, 1987 graduation, where Dr. Bernstein presented the completed thesis and the degree to Buzz’s parents. This research was subsequently published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. To honor his memory and to provide inspiration to his peers and colleagues, we have begun an endowment fund. This allows us to bring top investigators to SDSU to present recent advances in genetic disease research.
Dr. Joseph Wu is Director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute and Professor in the Department of Medicine (Cardiology) and Department of Radiology (Molecular Imaging Program). He received his M.D. from Yale and completed his medicine residency and cardiology fellowship training followed by a Ph.D. in molecular pharmacology at UCLA. His awards include the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Career Award in Medical Sciences, Baxter Foundation Faculty Scholar Award, NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, NIH Roadmap Transformative Award and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers presented by President Obama. Dr. Wu is on the editorial board of the Journal Clinical Investigation, Circulation Research and several other journals. Dr. Wu’s clinical activities involve adult congenital heart disease and echocardiography. His lab studies the biological mechanisms of adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells, and induced pluripotent stem cells. Approaches to better understand stem cell biology include next generation sequencing, tissue engineering, physiological testing and molecular imaging technologies. His group uses induced pluripotent stem cells for cardiovascular disease modeling, drug screening and cell therapy. They also develop vectors and therapeutic genes for cardiovascular gene therapy applications.