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March 2002

Release date: March 11, 2002

Immunology Researcher to Deliver Moon Lecture April 9 at ASU

Dr. Polly Celine Eveline Matzinger, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) researcher whose theory of how the body's immune system works is challenging the conventional theories of immunology, has been named to present the 26th Moon Distinguished Lectureship in Science April 9 at Angelo State University.

Matzinger is head of the section on T cell tolerance and memory, Ghost Lab, Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunology, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, NIH. She will deliver a technical lecture for students at 2 p.m. April 9 on "Does the Immune System Really Distinguish Between Self and Non-Self?" and an 8 p.m. public lecture on "From an Ancient Native American Myth: A Treatment for Hemophilia." Both programs will be in the C.J. Davidson Conference Center in ASU's Houston Harte University Center.

Through her research in immunology over the last two decades, Matzinger is questioning the conventional wisdom of how the body's immune system works. In the process, she has been forcing scientists to re-examine long-held beliefs in immunology.

To explain these immunological anomalies, Dr. Matzinger has postulated that the role of T cells, the body's surveillance cells, is not just to identify alien cells but rather to determine which of those intruder cells may be dangerous to the body's proper functioning.

Matzinger's rise to scientific prominence is just as unconventional as her theories of immunology. Her resume lists a variety of occupations jazz musician, dog trainer, carpenter, music student, Playboy bunny and waitress before she got serious about science.

She holds her B.S. from the University of California at Irvine and her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of California at San Diego. Additionally, she served four years as a National Institutes of Health Overseas Fellow in the Department of Pathology at Cambridge University.

The Moon Lectureship was established in 1976 in memory of former San Angelo physician Roy E. Moon by five of his colleagues and has been funded annually by a grant from the physicians of West Texas Medical Associates. The lectureship brings scientists of national prominence to the ASU campus each year for public lectures, colloquia, classroom visits and informal discussions.

Members of the Moon Lecture selection committee are David H. Loyd, Jr., Ph.D., Patrick E. Gibson, M.D., John T. Granaghan, Jr., M.D., Crosby W. Jones, Jr., Ph.D., C. Varren Parker, Jr., Ph.D., Fazlur Rahman, M.D., Jane Rider, M.D., and George E. Shankle, Ph.D.