Graduate students and faculty members presented research on scientific topics at the seventh annual Graduate Student Research Symposium, or GSRS, last Friday.

Organized by graduate student chairs Jessie Hanrahan GRD ’03 and Stephanie Brewer GRD ’03, this year’s GSRS featured opening remarks by Graduate School Dean Susan Hockfield, an address by biology professor Pietro De Camilli and Nobel Laureate Harold Varmus. After the opening remarks, six students from a variety of biological sciences gave presentations. Varmus’ keynote address followed.

Varmus, who won the Nobel Prize in 1989, presented a speech on the development of cancer treatment.

Danielle Nelson GRD ’03 said she enjoyed listening to Varmus, who once served as director of the National Institutes of Health.

“I appreciated his fusion of the history of cancer research with some of the more recent advances in mouse models of certain cancers and their treatment options,” Nelson said.

Nelson was one of six students who also gave presentations on topics ranging from pre-mRNA splicing and cervical carcinomas. Students presented in fields including molecular, cellular and developmental biology; molecular biophysics and biochemistry; and ecology and evolutionary biology.

De Camilli also gave a presentation on the role of lipids in membrane traffic.

Hanrahan said organizers selected De Camilli to talk because of his role as a biology professor.

“It was nice to have a tenured professor speak because you never get to hear tenured faculty talk,” Hanrahan said. “He was also conducing very interesting research in his lab.”

Scott Rifkin GRD ’04 presented on gene expression in fruit flies. He said he was glad he participated.

“I enjoyed the symposium and got some nice and helpful comments on my presentation,” Rifkin said. “I’d say it was a success, with good attendance, good questions, and good posters and presentations.”

After the six students’ presentations, the symposium moved to Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library for a poster session. More than 75 abstracts were presented on posters.

Founded in 1996 by then-graduate students Kate Smith and Leslyn Hanakahi, the GSRS is devoted to presenting biological research to Yale graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors. It also serves to give a better sense of what various labs are doing so that rising first-year students can know what lab they which to work in, Brewer said.

In the past six years, this event has always lasted for two days. But this year’s chairs shortened the program to one day in an effort to make it more interesting to audience members, Brewer said. In addition, all the poster abstracts were presented in the same room for the first time.

Nelson said she thought the changes were effective.

“Attendance was higher due to the changes in format,” Nelson said. “Having the GSRS in a single afternoon perhaps made it easier for people to take the time to attend.”