The Richard C. Parker Memorial Lecture


This lecture is part of an annual tribute to Richard Parker, a former Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology.

Richard arrived at Columbia University in 1983 after undergraduate training at MIT, doctoral work at California Institute of Technology, and postdoctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco. He established a laboratory, began independent research on transformation of cells, joined in teaching of the department courses, and started training several doctoral students. All this he began despite having been diagnosed, several years earlier, of having lymphoblastic T-cell lymphoma. Richard spent nearly three years in our department, and he was a brilliant, dedicated, dependable and outspoken colleague. Richard fought his disease for six and one half years, which unfortunately took his life on July 4, 1986.

Richard was especially dedicated to graduate education, and before he died he asked his department chairman, Dr. Lucy Shapiro, to do everything possible to support graduate training at Columbia. As a result, the department established the Richard C. Parker Memorial Fund for graduate training. This fund is used to sponsor, each year, a seminar by an outstanding scientist. The speaker is selected and hosted by the graduate students of the department, and spends the day talking with the students.

In addition, the Richard C. Parker Graduate Student Award was established, which is presented each year to a student who has accomplished outstanding and innovative work. Previous recipients of this award are listed on the following table.


Parker Award Recipients and Memorial Lectures


Year Award Recipient Award Lecturer


1987 Pam Schwartzberg Philip Leder

1988 Cathy Mendelsohn Joan Steitz

1989 Andrea Marra Jonathan King

1990 Xiuxuan Zhu H. Robert Horvitz (2002 Nobel Prize in Medicine)

1991 Nick Cacalano Robert A. Weinberg

1992 Lori Sussel David Livingston

1993 Peter Covitz Edward Harlow

1994 Elaine Sia & Sandra Wells Ronald Levy

1995 Elizabeth Colston Harold Varmus (1989 Nobel Prize in Medicine)

1996 Stephen Buck J. Michael Bishop (1989 Nobel Prize in Medicine)

1997 Erik Lium & Gonzalo Merino Tom Maniatis

1998 Nikka Danial Gerald Fink

1999 Douglas Braaten Anna M. Skalka

2000 Husam Ansari David Botstein

2001 Scott Kachlany Marjorie Oettinger

2002 Oliver Jovanovic J. Craig Venter

2003 Robert Pelham & Paul Planet Jonathan Beckwith

2004 Vincent Bruno & Kristen Johnson Hidde Ploegh

2005 Lance Langston Leonard Guarente

2006 Clarissa Nobile & Nadim Shohdy Lucy Shapiro

2007 Brenda Perez & Erna Magnusdottir Bonnie Bassler

2008 Teresita Arenzana Aaron Mitchell

2009 Eleni Mimitou Anthony Fauci

2010 Allison Fay Susan Gottesman

2011 Kanako Lewis Philippe Sansonetti

2012 Celia Keim & Christal Vitiello C. David Allis

2013 Roy Maute Ruslan Medzhitov

2014 Huan Chen Dan Littman

2015 Naomi Yudanin, Evangelos Pefanis & Jaeyop Lee Craig B. Thompson

2016 Sarah Deng Yasmin Belkaid

2017 Casandra Panea Akiko Iwasaki

2018 Matthew Decker Ira Mellman