Vallee Voices

An Oral History of The Vallee Foundation

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1919

1919

  Bert Lester (Blumenthal) Vallee was born in Germany on June 1. He grew up in Luxembourg.

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1938

1938

With a BSC from the University of Bern, Bert Vallee moved to the US as the first and only fellow of the International Student Service of the League of Nations.

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1943

1943

Bert earned his MD from NYU College of Medicine and began work at Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he became interested in the metabolism of iron and other metals such as zinc and copper. During World War II, he was assigned to the joint HMS-MIT blood-preservation project directed by the protein chemists Edwin Cohn...

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1943

        Kuggie moved to Boston to attend Boston University. She earned her BS and EdM in Biology from Boston University while working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Science Department at BU and also as a research consultant at the New Hampshire Mental Hygiene Clinic. Bert and Kuggie met at about this...

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1948

1948

  Bert was awarded a National Research Council Fellowship to study emission arc spectroscopy in the world-famous spectroscopy laboratory affiliated with the physics, chemistry and biology departments of MIT.

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1952

      Kuggie earned her EdD from Boston University and subsequently became Professor of Biology at Lesley College where she remained for 27...

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1954

1954

        Bert established the Biophysics Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School and the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. This laboratory became the locus of Bert’s scientific...

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1956

1956

Bert named Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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1957

Bert discovered the unique protein metallothionein, a low-molecular weight cysteine-rich protein. The protein binds zinc atoms very tightly and has been implicated in the homeostasis of zinc metabolism. It also binds many other metals tightly: the redox properties of copper, when bound to metallothionein, may be of significance in neurodegenerative...

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1965

Bert became the Paul C Cabot Professor of Biological Chemistry at Harvard Medical School.

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1974

Harvard and Monsanto embarked on a radical departure from conventional academic research by entering into a joint venture catalyzed by Bert and Monsanto Vice-President, Monte Throdahl. This was an academic-industrial enterprise on a large scale, perhaps the first of its kind in terms of funding and duration. The research was directed toward isolating...

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1980

Bert established the Endowment for Research in Human Biology at Harvard with income from the Bronfman Foundation to fund research in alcohol metabolism.

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1991

Kuggie became Professor of Biology, Emeritus, at Lesley College and subsequently was appointed Lecturer on Biology in the Center for Biochemical and Biophysical Sciences and Medicine at Harvard...

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1992

1992

  Hans Jornvall (Karolinska Institutet) brought his whole lab to visit Bert’s lab.    

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1996

1996

Bert and Kuggie established The Bert L & N Kuggie Vallee Foundation Inc to promote a collegial community of international scientists, to enhance scientific collaboration and communication, and to advance medical education and biomedical research. This was initially achieved by sponsoring short-term Vallee Visiting Professorships (VVPs) at institutions...

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1997

In the spring, Clarence ‘Bud’ Ryan, a leader in the field of innate immune response in plants at Washington State University, had, in his words, “the tremendous honor and privilege to be invited as the first Bert and Natalie Vallee Visiting Professor.” Bert’s lab used biochemical approaches to study human diseases and presented “an unusual opportunity to...

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1998

1998

Edmond H Fischer (University of Washington) had a “most rewarding experience” in Bert’s lab where the three main themes under investigation (metallothionein and Zn2+ metabolism; angiogenin and angiogenin and angiogenesis; and Diadzin’s involvement in alcohol addiction) were outside his own field of investigation (signal transduction and cellular...

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1998

The Vallee Foundation’s first Symposium, held in Boston in May, brought together 18 scientists, both VVPs and others, to celebrate “Forty Years of...

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1999

1999

From now on, not all VVPs came to Bert’s Lab. The Vallee Foundation began to send VVPs further afield: Earl Davie, a biochemist studying blood proteins involved in coagulation and fibrinolysis at the University of Washington, travelled to Hans Jornvall’s lab at the Karolinska Institutet. “Uninterrupted time was, in many ways, the single most important...

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2000

Wade Harper (Harvard Medical School) spent a month in the lab of Dame Louise Johnson at Oxford. “How very rare it is for scientists to be able to spend several weeks fully away from their ongoing activities to simply learn something new and interact extensively with colleagues of orthogonal interests. The VVP provides just such an opportunity. I learned...

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2001

Dame Louise Johnson, a leading molecular biologist and protein crystallographer at the University of Oxford, and Cheng-Wen Wu, who was doing pioneering work on the four-step mechanism of gene transcription at the National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan, both became Vallee Visiting Professors in Bert’s lab at Harvard Medical School. Moshe Yaniv, a...

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2002

2002

Fourteen Vallee Visiting Professors and members of Bert Vallee’s lab met in Annecy in the spring of 2002 at the second Vallee Meeting to report on their research.

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2003

Long-standing collaborations were furthered and expanded when Gerard Canters (Leiden University) spent his VVP sabbatical in Allen Hill’s lab at Oxford. “The excellent scientific reputation of the host institute; complete freedom of any bureaucratic obligations and the ability to focus on science and mutual contacts; the length of the stay. Longer than...

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2004

2004

Malcolm Green (University of Oxford) was provided with a much-needed opportunity to think about his future research program during his month-long VVP sabbatical in Jeremy Knowles’ lab in the Department of Chemistry at Harvard University.   With vast experience in electrochemistry, both in its analytical use and in its application to organometallic...

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2004

2004

In addition to providing an opportunity for formal and informal science reports from several VVPs, the 2004 meeting, held in Boston, was devoted to two themes: “Molecular Pathology” and “Clinical Nanochemistry and Molography: A Tribute to Allen...

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2005

2005

Hans Jörnvall (Karolinska Institutet), who had known and collaborated with Bert since the 1970s, came back to Bert’s lab for his VVP sabbatical. Douglas Rees (California Institute of Technology) was welcomed to the University of Oxford on two separate visits of two weeks each time where he was hosted by Dame Louise Johnson and Fraser Armstrong. “I was...

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2006

2006

Lewis Cantley, who was then at Harvard Medical School, took the closest he had come to a sabbatical experience in Louise Johnson’s lab at the University of Oxford. “Being over-committed throughout my career, finding even a single month to escape to a new academic environment was a rare and rewarding experience. Having originally trained as an...

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2006

2006

The 2006 Vallee Summer Symposium convened 15 VVPs to Endicott House in Dedham to talk about their work.  Topics included peptide signals for the innate immune response in plants (Clarence Ryan, Washington State University, VVP 1997), structural studies on cell regulatory proteins (Louise Johnson, University of Oxford, VVP 2001), and gene and pathway...

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2007

2007

Bert and Kuggie Vallee loved Montana.  Both were keen horse riders and relished the outdoors.  The wide-open spaces surrounding the 320 Guest Ranch in Big Sky provided a breathtaking contrast to the normal laboratory-based work of the Vallee Visiting Professors.  A two-day 2007 Summer Symposium provided mornings in the mountains, and afternoons devoted to...

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2008

2008

Jesper Haeggström (Karolinska Institutet) spent his VVP sabbatical in the lab of Charles Serhan lab at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital. “One facet of my visit that was particularly stimulating was all the informal meetings and discussions with distinguished colleagues both inside and outside my own immediate fields of interest. I remember spending one...

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2009

Peter Howley (Harvard Medical School) spent two weeks in Oxford thanks to Dame Louise Johnson and Allen Hill and two weeks hosted by Moshe Yaniv at the Institut Pasteur. “It turned out that Louise Johnson and I have a common interest in a cellular bromodomain protein called Brd4 and were unaware of this major interface between our research interests before...

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2009

2009

The 2009 Summer Symposium, again held in Dedham, provided an opportunity for 16 VVPs and other scholars and scientists to talk about their work as well as explore The Future for Young Scientists in Europe and the USA and Bringing Discoveries to...

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2010

2010

In May, 2010, Torsten Wiesel came back to Harvard to renew contact with the Department of Neurobiology, where he had previously been a member for twenty years. “My experience as a Vallee Visiting Professor was intellectually rich and wonderful. I met with nearly the entire faculty of the department individually, which turned out to be a very enriching and...

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2010

2010

Bert Lester Vallee died on May 7.   S James Adelstein (Paul C Cabot Distinguished Professor of Medical Biophysics, Harvard Medical School) became President of the Vallee...

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2010

2010

Bert Vallee had planned that the 2010 Summer Meeting would take place in Iceland, but the location was quickly moved to Boston when it became clear that his health was deteriorating. In the end, he died just three months beforehand. He would have enjoyed the stimulating papers and lively discussion that revolved around the themes of the symposium: Protein...

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2012

Stephen Benkovic (Penn State) collaborated with colleagues in the Bensimon Lab at the Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, to understand the workings of molecular machines and in particular to work with the T4 phage replisome. “The science fostered by my visit will continue through strengthened collaborations and I am confident will lead to novel, significant...

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2012

2012

The 2012 Summer Symposium was held in Iceland on the theme of Molecular Machines.

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2013

Naama Barkai (Weizmann Institute of Science) had three hosts in Boston during the summer: Andrew Murray at Harvard’s Center for Systems Biology in Cambridge, Aviv Regev at the Broad Institute, and Marc Kirschner in System Biology at HMS. “I didn’t make specific plans connected to any specific project in the lab. My goal was to discuss and interact with...

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2013

2013

The first Vallee Lindau Fellows were appointed to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Miri Krupkin (Weizmann Institute of Sciences) Fernanda Duarte (Uppsala University) Hui-Chung Tai (Korea Institute for Advanced Study) Zhaoyan Zhu...

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2013

The first Young Investigator Awardees were appointed. Kirsty Spalding (Karolinska Institutet): Adipose tissue mass regulation in lean and obese individuals. David Tobin (Duke University): Decoding the Host Immune Response to Mycobacterial Infection. Feng Zhang (MIT, Broad Institute): In vivo Genome Engineering Technologies for Probing Brain Function and...

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2014

Four more Vallee Young Investigator Awards were given to: Sandeep Robert Datta, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School, is working on the development and function of neural circuits. Danelle Devenport, PhD, Princeton University, is a cellular and developmental biologist who studies how cells communicate with one another to control collective behaviors over...

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2014

Ron Vale (University of California, San Francisco) spent a month at the Curie Institute in Paris, hosted by Genevieve Almouzni. “I chose the Curie Institut in Paris because of their excellence in the field of cell biology and because I will be joining their scientific advisory board starting in November 2014. … With regard to informal...

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2014

2014

The first Bert and Natalie Vallee Award in Biomedical Science was awarded to Michael Gottesman (National Cancer Institute) at the annual meeting of the...

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2014

2014

The second group of Vallee Lindau Fellows attended the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting: Renata Gomes (Kings College London) Alice Matimba (University of Zimbabwe) Maria Molina (Freie Universitat, Berlin) Johanna Roostalu (Cancer Research...

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2014

2014

The 2014 Summer Symposium was held in Boston on the topic of Protein Homeostasis, Metabolism, and Cancer.

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2015

Bonnie Bassler (Princeton University) spent her VVP sabbatical in Arturo Zychlinsky’s lab at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin): “I’m home from my Vallee month. It was magical! Please tell the committee I say again thank you so much for choosing me. I now understand why the month-long time frame is such a spectacular idea. I had a...

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2015

  The third round of Vallee Young Investigators was appointed: Martin Jinek (University of Zurich): Enhancing the capabilities of CRISPR-Cas9 RNA-guided genome editing. Fabiana Perocchi, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich): Reconstruction of mitochondrial calcium signaling checkpoints. Rickard Sandberg (Karolinska Institutet): The nature of allelic...

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2015

2015

David Eisenberg, Paul Boyer Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at UCLA and an HHMI Investigator, is the second winner of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Bert and Natalie Vallee Award in Biomedical...

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2015

2015

Peter M Howley, PhD, Shattuck Professor of Pathological Anatomy and Professor of Microbiology and Immunobiology at Harvard Medical School, was elected President of the Vallee Foundation to replace S James Adelstein, Paul C Cabot Distinguished Professor of Medical Biophysics at Harvard Medical School, who retains the title of Past...

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2015

Six Vallee Lindau Fellows attended the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting this year: Joanne Fothergill (University of Liverpool) Katie Harron PhD (University College London) Agnieska Krzyzoslak PhD (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge) Sarah Rollauer PhD (NIH & MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, Cambridge) Melda Tozluoglu PhD (University...

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2015

2015

The 2015 Summer Meeting focused on the work being done by a handful of Vallee Young Investigators: David Tobin (Duke University Medical Center); Feng Zhang (McGovern Institute, Broad Institute, MIT); Danelle Devenport (Princeton University); Sandeep Robert Datta (Harvard Medical School); and Christopher Mason (Weill Cornell Medical College).  Recently...

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2016

Five internationally recognized leaders in biomedical research were named the 2016 Vallee Visiting Professors. Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD, (Director, Department of Regulation in Infection Biology, Max Planck Institute of Infection Biology); David Eisenberg, DPhil, (Paul D Boyer Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Los...

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2016

2016

The 2016 Summer Symposium is a multi-disciplinary meeting taking place in Rapallo, Italy. Showcasing work by selected Vallee Visiting Professors and Young Investigators, the meeting is divided into five main sessions: Young Investigator Talks; Cellular Homeostasis Mechanisms; Crossing Membranes; Responding to the Environment; and Cancer...

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