Vice-Chancellor's Occasional Lecture

Tuesday, July 4, 2017 - 16:00
ISSER Conference Hall


The University Community is cordially invited to the Vice-Chancellor’s Occasional lecture as follows:

Topic: Aquaporin water channels: From atomic structure to malaria

Speaker: Prof. Peter Agre, MD Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


Date: July 4, 2017

Time: 4:00 pm

Venue: ISSER Conference Centre


All are cordially invited




Aquaporin water channels: from atomic structure to malaria

Peter Agre, MD

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health


The pathway by which water rapidly crosses cell membranes was explained by discovery of the aquaporin water channel proteins. AQP1 confers red cells and proximal renal tubules with high water permeability. Present in renal collecting duct, AQP2 is regulated by vasopressin to protect against dehydration. AQP0 is expressed in lens fiber cells, and mutations cause cataracts. Brain edema after head injury involves AQP4 in astroglia, and autoantibodies to AQP4 cause episodic blindness and paralysis. AQP5 allows release of sweat, tears, and saliva. Glycerol release by AQP7 in adipocytes and uptake by AQP9 in liver maintains blood glucose levels during starvation. Plants express multiple aquaporins in rootlets, stems, and leaves. Full virulence of malaria and other parasites is dependent upon aquaporins. Efforts in labs around the world are seeking to target aquaporins for drug discovery as well as well as development of drought resistant crops.



Prof. Agre joined the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 1981 and rose to the rank of Professor of Biological Chemistry and Professor of Medicine. Prof. Agre is presently Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, and since 2008 has served as Director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. He oversees 20 faculty research groups in Baltimore as well as field activities in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Dem Rep Congo.

In 2003, Prof. Agre shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering aquaporins, a family of water channel proteins found throughout nature. Referred to as “the plumbing system for cells,” aquaporins are responsible for numerous physiological processes in humans and are implicated in multiple clinical disorders including malaria.

Prof. Agre is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine for which he chaired the Committee on Human Rights. From 2009-2011, Prof. Agre served as President and chair of the Board of Advisors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science when he became active in science diplomacy. He continues to lead groups of US scientists to countries including North Korea, Myanmar, Iran, and Cuba.