A new event in Blacksburg designed to take scientific research out of the laboratory and deliver it to a more general audience will feature a Virginia Tech professor known internationally for his work in biodiversity and the development of naturally occurring cancer-fighting agents.
Café Scientifique of Blacksburg will hold its second event on April 7, 2009, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Awful Arthur’s restaurant on the corner of Draper Road and Washington Street. David G.I. Kingston, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry in Virginia Tech’s College of Science, will present “Drug Discovery from Nature: Why, Where and How.” Admission to the event is free and open to the general public.
Work in Kingston’s Bioorganic and Natural Products Chemistry research group involves the chemistry of biologically active products related to cancer. Kingston was one of the first chemists in the United States to study the chemical qualities of Taxol, an anti-cancer agent that is widely used to treat breast and ovarian cancer. He also studies the medical usefulness of other natural products and their impact on potential drug targets related to malaria, mycobacterial diseases, and fungal infections. His research involving the study of plant extracts has led to the identification of a potential anti-cancer drug, which is currently under investigation. Biodiversity and drug discovery in tropical rain forests are other research projects of interest. Kingston serves as principal investigator and group leader for an international biodiversity group that aims to foster biodiversity conservation, economic development, and drug discovery in Madagascar.
Kingston has received numerous honors and awards, including the Research Achievement Award from the American Society of Pharmacognosy and the Ernest Guenther Award from the American Chemical Society. He holds 14 patents and has written more than 300 refereed research publications and more than 20 chapters in books and journals.
Sponsored by the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, Café Scientifique in Blacksburg made its debut in February, with more than 40 people in attendance. A largely grassroots movement, the first café took place in the United Kingdom in 1998 and soon spread across Europe and the United States. The goal of Café Scientifique is to present science in an informal setting that will encourage public discussion. A 10-20 minute presentation from the featured researcher is followed by a question and answer session from the audience.
“We are very pleased to have Dr. Kingston discuss his work at our second Café Scientifique event,” said Darleen Baker, project coordinator at the institute and organizer of Café Scientifique in Blacksburg. “We are excited to be part of this movement and look forward to bringing even more of the fascinating research going on right here in our area to the public for both lively and informative discussion.”