Demystifying Medicine Video

Four billion years ago, on a Tuesday, life arose on Earth from non-living matter. The how, where, and why remain a mystery. These earliest life forms were simple and microscopic yet had two distinct properties that set them apart from other organic chemical chains in the environment: they could metabolize and replicate.

About two billion years ago, also coincidentally on a Tuesday, life exploded with dazzling variety and complexity to include multicellular life with eukaryotic cells. A few key things happened between abiogenesis and the rise of our first eukaryotic ancestors, and this will be the subject of this Tuesday's Demystifying Medicine presentation.

Dr. Nick Lane is a professor of evolutionary biochemistry in the Division of Biosciences at University College London. His research is on the origin of life and the origin of the eukaryotic cell with a focus on the role of chemiosmosis, the process through which cells generate energy in the form of ATP by way of proton gradients across membranes.

Lane is also an award-winning author. His most recent book, from 2015, is "The Vital Question: Why Is Life the Way It Is?"

Dr. Lippincott-Schwartz is a senior group leader at Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Janelia Research Campus and a founding member of its Neuronal Cell Biology Program. Previously, from 1993 to 2016, she was chief of the NIH NICHD Section on Organelle Biology. Her research has revealed how the organelles of eukaryotic cells are dynamic, self-organized structures that constantly regenerate themselves through intracellular vesicle traffic, rather than static structures.

Lippincott-Schwartz also is an innovator of live, subcellular microscopy. Her collaborative work at the NIH on photoactivatable GFP led to the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy, which was recognized in a 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded to her colleague Eric Betzig.

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