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From Beach to Bench and Beyond: Venom’s Therapeutic Potential for Pain and Cancer

Wednesday, March 10, 2021
9:00 – 10:00 AM | WEBINAR



Holford headshot

Mandë Holford, Ph.D., ’03

Associate Professor in Chemistry
CUNY Hunter College and The CUNY Graduate Center


Vanessa Ruta, Ph.D.,‘05

Gabrielle H. Reem and Herbert J. Kayden Associate Professor
Laboratory of Neurophysiology and Behavior
The Rockefeller University

Venoms—molecules that evolved as toxins—have the power to transform lives. Marine chemical biologist Dr. Mandë Holford studies snail venom and its ability to disable prey by interfering with cell signaling. These peptides can provide insights into cellular physiology, informing efforts to develop novel therapeutics for pain disorders and cancer, new agricultural pesticides with gentler environmental impacts, and myriad other innovations yet to be discovered.

A 2003 graduate of Rockefeller University, Dr. Holford is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at CUNY Hunter College and The CUNY Graduate Center. She also holds scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine, reflecting her interdisciplinary approach to marine biology and chemistry that ranges “from mollusks to medicine.”

Dr. Holford co-developed a premier Science Diplomacy course at Rockefeller University to encourage early career scientists to think globally about the impacts of their research. She was selected as a 2020 Sustainability Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, which named her a New Champion Young Scientist in 2015. She was recognized as a Breakthrough Woman in Science by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and NPR’s Science Friday. She is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.

She is also co-founder of Killer Snails, LLC, an award winning EdTech company that uses tabletop, digital, and XR games about extreme creatures in nature as a conduit to advance scientific learning in K–12 classrooms. Dr. Holford is a Life Member of the Council of Foreign Relations and a Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. An advocate for science education at all grade levels, she is also the recipient of a prestigious Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.