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Lecture on "Single-particle cryo-EM: Visualization of biological molecules in their native states"

Event Name (Full/Detailed): 
Institute Colloquium

The Indian Institute of Technology Bombay is organising an Institute Colloquium on Friday, January 17, 2020. The details of the lecture are given below:

Title: "Single-particle cryo-EM: Visualization of biological molecules in their native states"

Speaker: Professor Joachim Frank, Nobel laureate in chemistry (2017), Columbia University, New York

Abstract: The aim of Structural Biology is to explain life processes in terms of macromolecular interactions in the cell. These interactions typically involve more than two partners, and can run up to dozens. A full description will need to characterize all structures on the atomic level, and the way these structures change in the process. Because of the crowded environment of the cell, such characterization is presently only possible when the group of interacting molecules (often organized into processive “molecular machines”) is isolated and studied in vitro. While X-ray crystallography has provided structures of a large number of molecular structures, the need for crystals diffracting to high resolution has severely limited the number of supramolecular assemblies and the range of conformers that can be studied with this technique. Single-particle cryo-electron microscopy is about to fill this gap, allowing functional processes to be studied in great detail without imposing restraints on the structures. There are many examples now for this expansion of Structural Biology toward a full characterization of a functional process. This presentation will cover concept, history and examples of the present capabilities of single-particle cryo-EM, and its significance for Medicine. It will then briefly cover the future prospects, which include the study of short-lived intermediates in a nonequilibrium system by time-resolved techniques, and the characterization of continuous structural changes using data mining from large ensembles of molecule images.

About the speaker: Prof. Joachim Frank received the 2017 Nobel prize in chemistry "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution". He is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, and the Department of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. from the Technical University in Munich and joined the Wadsworth Center in Albany as a Senior Research Scientist in 1975. In 1985, he joined the faculty of the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the newly founded School of Public Health of SUNY Albany. In 2008, he moved to New York to assume his current positions.

Dr. Frank's lab has developed techniques of electron microscopy and single-particle reconstruction of biological macromolecules, specializing in mathematical and computational approaches. He has applied these techniques of visualization to explore the structure and dynamics of the ribosome during the process of protein synthesis.

Prof. Frank is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Microbiology. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was recently honored for his contributions to the development of cryogenic electron microscopy of biological molecules and the study of protein synthesis with the 2014 Franklin Medal for Life Science. In 2017 he shared the Wiley Prize in Biomedical Sciences with Richard Henderson and Marin van Heel.

Event Date: 
17 January 2020 - 5:15pm
Venue: 
Prof. B. Nag Auditorium, Victor Menezes Convention Centre (VMCC)
IIT Bombay, Powai