Alumnus delivers chemistry lecture on cardioprotection


The Beacon/Steffen Horwath

Pownall speaks about his research efforts, Catherine Bone is pictured behind him.

On Nov. 6, the chemistry department along with members of the biology, physics, and pharmacy departments welcomed alumnus, Dr. Henry J. Pownall to deliver the Catherine H. Bone lecture.

This year Pownell delivered a lecture titled “Cardioprotection via High-Density Lipoprotein Therapy—From Biophysics to Mouse Models.”

Pownall is a Wilkes College graduate of 1967. He received a Master of Science in chemistry, and a doctorate from Northeastern University with training in chemistry.

He also received post-doctoral fellowships in molecular spectroscopy at the University of Houston and biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine, with an emphasis on lipid metabolism. Pownall is involved in three graduate programs in Houston, Texas.

Before the lecture began, Mrs. Margaret A. Steele revealed that Pownall had given an endowment to Wilkes University.

“While being an accomplished scientist and researcher, he is also a man of great generosity and forethought,” said Steele.

This endowment is for a permanent lecture series in chemistry and biochemistry, to bring more scientists to Wilkes and enlighten current students on their modern research. 

He began his lecture by explaining his early years of college and his master’s degree. “I was not prepared for school, I was a very good B, C, student which I improved on largely when I was here, but it was a transitional period when I went from being in school, because that’s what you’re supposed to do, to developing an interest in chemistry.”

Throughout his lecture, he consistently shared jokes and humor while navigating technical terms and ideas.

Sophomore pharmacy student Joe Carey enjoyed how the lecture was delivered, “He kept the talk interesting, which is a hard thing to do when discussing this level of research.”

“It was also reassuring to hear him talk about being an average student. Most of us think we won’t get anywhere without a 4.0, but hearing such an accomplished professor talk about not being a perfect student is a really refreshing perspective.”

The research project was presented in a linear fashion outlining the three segments of research that developed.

The original goal of the project was to determine the effects HDL had on the human body. Pownall and his team found that mice with deficient HDL receptors had severe platelet and red blood cell abnormalities as well as atherosclerosis and infertility.

Pownell then progressed to the next segment of his research. He and his team analyzed Serum Opacity Factor (SOF), which is caused by the protein Streptococcus pyogenes. This protein, in turn, turns blood cloudy.

The third segment of research Pownall discussed was the SOF reaction as a therapy method. However, there was more research to be conducted, from where Pownall and his team stopped. He enforced the idea that it was vital to consider what steps of research would be needed next as well as how expensive these research projects would be.

He has published many scientific papers partnered with other accomplished researchers which detail different results of his research.

The Catherine H. Bone lecture series is presented by an endowment of its namesake, which brings in successful chemists from around the world.