INSEAD Professor of Strategy. Co-Author of Blue Ocean Strategy. One of the Brightest Business Thinkers of our Generation
2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awardee. Speaker George P. Smith is famous for his extensive work on phage clones. Organizations book George P. Smith to learn about Phage Display, a method where a virus that infects bacteria is utilized to evolve new proteins.
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Keynote speaker George P. Smith is famous for working with bacteriophages, bacteria infecting viruses used to find new proteins. The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was shared between him and Sir Gregory Winter for their phage display work and Frances Arnold for her discovery in enzyme-directed evolution.
Bacteria serve as hosts for phages, and the viruses replicate within them. In 1984 Smith discovered that the filamentous family of phages could withstand a wide variety of guest peptides. This discovery led to Smith’s Nobel Prize-winning work. Employing then-current molecular biology techniques allowed building large “libraries” of phage clones. Each phage clone exhibited a unique guest peptide on the phage surface.
Several labs verified and enhanced the phage-display concept following the initial publication in 1985. Speaker George P. Smith’s collaborator Gregory Winter’s successful experiments refined the theory. According to Smith, phage display is an example of how innovations and scientific discoveries develop from global scientific communities rather than from people.
After earning his A.B. in biology from Haverford College, he worked as a lab technician and high school teacher for a year. He then studied to obtain his bacteriology and immunology Ph.D. from Harvard University. Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Wisconsin, he moved to Columbia, Missouri. He then began teaching at the University of Missouri in 1975.
Smith and his wife, Marjorie Sable, a retired professor emerita from the University of Missouri School of Social Work, live in Columbia with their two children. The couple fights for human rights and social justice with their involvement in activism. George, though not Jewish, is active in the effort to boycott Israel since it has subjugated and dispossessed the Palestinian people. Smith is one of the founders of the 60-voice Columbia Chorale.
In 2020, George P. Smith became an elected member of the United States National Academy of Sciences.
Evolution – the adaption of species to different environments – has created an enormous diversity of life. George Smith has used the same principles – genetic change and selection – to develop proteins that solve humankind’s chemical problems. In 1985, he developed an elegant method known as phage display, where a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria with its genes – can be used to evolve new proteins. This method has led to new pharmaceuticals, for example.
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