Is it better to be lucky or good? Paula Bates, Ph.D., talks about serendipity in scientific discovery at the next Beer with a Scientist, July 20

Is it better to be lucky or good? Paula Bates, Ph.D., talks about serendipity in scientific discovery at the next Beer with a Scientist, July 20

Is it better to be lucky or good? Paula Bates, Ph.D., talks about serendipity in scientific discovery at the next Beer with a Scientist, July 20

Paula Bates, Ph.D.

Scientists have made some amazing discoveries by accident, including penicillin, the microwave oven and Viagra. Of course, the scientists needed to have specific knowledge in order to recognize their discoveries.

At this month’s Beer with a Scientist, Paula Bates, Ph.D., will talk about the role serendipity has played in many scientific discoveries as well as her own career as a scientist. Bates, associate professor at the University of Louisville Department of Medicine and researcher at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, “accidentally” discovered a new cancer therapeutic that has been since used in patient clinical trials.

In her research, Bates focuses on identifying and characterizing novel cancer therapeutics. Her work has led to the clinical trials of a ‘first in humans’ therapeutic called AS1411, a DNA aptamer, which was, in fact, a serendipitous discovery. AS1411 folds into a G-quadruplex structure that binds to nucleolin (a protein present at high levels on the surface of cancer cells) and can kill cancer cells without harming non-malignant cells. She and her colleagues are now also using AS1411 to guide various nanoparticles to cancer cells, which could lead to better methods for cancer detection and therapy.

Bates also is principal investigator for University of Louisville ExCITE, an NIH Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub, created to facilitate the translation of biomedical innovations into commercial products that improve patient care and enhance health.

The program begins at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, July 20 at Against the Grain Brewery, 401 E. Main St. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

The Beer with a Scientist program began in 2014 and is the brainchild of UofL cancer researcher Levi Beverly, Ph.D. Once a month, the public is invited to enjoy exactly what the title promises:  beer and science.

Admission is free. Purchase of beer, other beverages or menu items is not required but is encouraged.

Organizers add that they also encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

For more information and to suggest future Beer with a Scientist topics, follow Louisville Underground Science on Facebook.

COMING NEXT MONTH: On August 17, Kristofer Rau, Ph.D., researcher in the UofL Department of Anesthesiology, will discuss the neurobiology of why we hurt. He’ll explain why the “funny bone” hurts so often, the placebo effect, why amputees feel pain in a lost limb and other painful topics.