Tousimis-Lauffer Distinguished Lecture Series

The Tousimis-Lauffer Distinguished Lecture series brings in eminent scientists at the forefront of scientific discovery. We are pleased to welcome Dr. Joseph Thornton in April 2024; Dr. Thornton is a Professor at the University of Chicago who works on molecular phylogenetics. We are also pleased to welcome Dr. Jill Banfield in April 2024. Dr. Banfield is a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley who works on microbial communities and geochemical cycling. 

Andrew W. Mellon Professor Max A. Lauffer was the founding chair of Pitt’s Department of Biophysics, now Biological Sciences.  As part of a 2006 ceremony honoring Dr. Lauffer, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg wrote: “As founder and head of the Department of Biophysics, you put in motion the events that enabled the University’s programs in biological science to rise to national prominence.”  He also served as the first dean of the Division of Natural Sciences. Dr. Lauffer was internationally known for his research on the chemical structure and biological activity of viruses. While on the Pitt faculty, he was part of an interdisciplinary group of professors developing new programs in the study of viruses.  Dr. Lauffer focused on plant viruses, continuing his work on the tobacco mosaic virus.  His studies of the biophysical properties of the influenza virus helped pave the way for the production of flu vaccines.  Among his colleagues was Jonas Salk, who focused his work on polio virus.


The Tousimis-Lauffer Distinguished Annual Lecture in Biological Sciences was established in honor of Max Lauffer in 2006 by his former student, Anastasios J. Tousimis. Dr. Tousimis earned the B.S. and M.S. degrees in biophysics in 1950 and 1952 from the University of Pittsburgh, and his PhD from George Washington University. He is the President and CEO of Tousimis Research Corporation and responsible for such innovations as the freeze-drying of bacteria for electron microscopy, for the biophysical characterization and identification of numerous new viruses, and for the development of numerous instruments including the first electron probe x-ray microanalyzer.

Past Tousimis-Lauffer Distinguished lecturers include:





Apr 2023

Lois Weisman

Myosin V-based trasport and Phosphoinositide Signaling

University of Michigan

Oct 2020

Tom Cech

Catalytic RNA

University of Colorado

Sep 2019

Patrick Cramer

Eukaryotic Transcription

Max Planck Institute

Apr 2019

Sharon Long

Plant-Rhizobium Interactions

Stanford University

Apr 2018

Sean Carroll

Evolution and Development

University of Wisconsin/HHMI

Feb 2018

David Fidock

Malaria & the Immune System

Columbia University

Nov 2015

Nancy Kleckner

Chromosome Dynamics

Harvard University

Apr 2013

Jorge Galán

Bacterial Secretion

Yale University

Apr 2011

Nigel Grandley

DNA Dynamics

Yale University

Nov 2009

Rick Young

Cell Differentiation


Nov 2007

Costa Georgopolos

Phage Molecular Biology

University of Utah