Archive by date: November

MPSDC Protein Expression/Purification core adds two scientists to the team

We are pleased to announce that Drs. Francis Valiyaveetil and Andrzej Rajca and their research teams have officially joined the Consortium. Valiyaveetil and Rajca began their collaborations with the MPSDC as Associate Members, and are now participating as active members of the Membrane Protein Expression/Purification Core.

Dr. Francis Valiyaveetil is Assistant Professor of Physiology & Pharmacology at Oregon Health & Science University. The Valiyaveetil lab studies potassium channels, which are integral membrane proteins that catalyze the selective conduction of K ions across biological membranes. While a great deal of research has been focused on these channels, fundamental questions regarding the mechanism of ionic selectivity and gating remain. Valiyaveetil”s team has developed a unique combination of methods to address these questions. Their methods include the use of chemical synthesis to introduce precise chemical changes in the channels, x-ray crystallography to determine the structural effects and electrophysiology to determine the functional effects of these changes. Using this multidisciplinary approach they hope to explain the mechanism of ion selectivity and channel gating.

Dr. Andrzej Rajca is Charles Bessey Professor of Chemistry at University of Nebraska. The Rajca laboratory research interests lie in the area of organic and biomaterials chemistry. The underlying theme of the laboratory”s mobgames research is rational design and synthesis of new materials (molecules and polymers) with magnetic and optical properties. Rational design of new structures and materials (molecules and polymers) with targeted properties are implemented using the tools of organic synthesis, crystallography, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR and EPR) and imaging (MRI), as well as magnetometry (SQUID), circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy and multiangle light scattering (MALS).

According to Robert Nakamoto, PI of the Protein core, Rajca and Valiyaveetil will play a pivotal role in the core”s ongoing research activities: “Andrzej Rajca provides expertise in organic synthesis of nitroxide-containing compounds, and Frances Valiyaveetil is developing in vitro methods for synthesis and folding of membranous polypeptides. These investigators are collaborating with Protein Core members to develop methods for incorporation of spectroscopic labels directly into target proteins.”

Welcome, Andrzej and Francis!

2014 Meeting keynote lectures and tentative program announced

We are happy to present two keynote speakers for next year’s Frontiers in Membrane Protein Dynamics conference:

Our first speaker is Robert Stroud, Professor of Biochemistry & Biophysics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of California at San Francisco. At the Stroud lab, scientists seek to understand molecular mechanisms of certain key biological processes, as well as signal transduction between processes at the level of protein structure, dynamics, and mechanism. In addition to his posting at UCSF, Dr. Stroud is also the director of the Membrane Protein Expression Center, one of the centers funded by the NIH Common Fund Structural Biology Program. The MPEH develops and applies the latest innovative methods yielding structurally and functionally intact eukaryotic membrane proteins for drug development, and structural and functional characterization.

Our second keynote speaker is one of our very own Consortium members: Klaus Schulten, Swanlund Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Professor Schulten is a full-time faculty member in the Beckman Institute and directs the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group. His professional interests are theoretical physics and theoretical biology. His current research focuses on the structure and function of supramolecular systems in the living cell, and on the development of non-equilibrium statistical mechanical descriptions and efficient computing tools for structural biology. Professor Schulten is a leader in the field of computational biophysics, having devoted over 40 years to establishing the physical mechanisms underlying processes and organization in living systems from the atomic to the organism scale. Schulten is a strong proponent of the use of simulations as a “computational microscope”, to augment experimental research, and to lead to discoveries that could not be made through experiments so far. The molecular dynamics and structure analysis programs NAMD and VMD, born and continuously developed in his group, are used today by many thousands of researchers across the world.

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