Houston’s Rice University and the Gulf Coast Consortia will host an all-day symposium titled “International Year of Crystallography: Structure Matters” Feb. 14 at the BioScience Research Collaborative.
Experts in X-ray crystallography – a technique used by scientists to determine the structure of matter at very small scales – will discuss the significance of the technology and how it’s employed to visualize protein structures, a critical step in the design of drugs to fight disease.
Speakers include George Phillips, the Ralph and Dorothy Looney Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Rice; Yizhi Jane Tao, an associate professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice; Choel Kim, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine; John Spence, the Richard Snell Professor of Physics at Arizona State University and director of science for the National Science Foundation (NSF) BioXFEL Science and Technology
Center; and Stephen Burley, professor and director of the Center for Integrative Proteomics Research at Rutgers University.
The program will begin at 9 a.m. with poster presentations and science exhibits for high school students.
Crystallography is being recognized by the United Nations on the 100th anniversary of the awarding of Nobel Prizes to its discoverers, German physicist Max von Laue and the father-son team of William Henry and William Lawrence Bragg. Rice researchers led by Phillips are part of the NSF’s BioXFEL consortium, founded last year and based at the University of Buffalo, to explore the use of strong X-ray lasers to detail the atomic structures of molecules with a resolution approaching the nanoscale.
The George Phillips lab at Rice’s overall research focus is to relate the three-dimensional structure and dynamics of proteins to their biological functions. The lab team uses techniques of X-ray crystallography and other biophysical methods to elucidate the molecular structures, dynamics, and functions of proteins. Extensive use is made of modern computational methods to analyze the structures and their dynamics.
Projects underway at the lab include obtaining an atomic description of the basis for binding of oxygen and other ligands to heme proteins, and development of new techniques for observing the dynamics of proteins and nucleic acids using diffuse X-ray scattering analysis and molecular dynamics simulations. The result of the latter research will be a transition from “snapshots” of macromolecules to the generation of “movies” of molecules in action.
The Gulf Coast Consortia (GCC) brings together the strengths of its six prominent and geographically proximate Gulf Coast institutions — Baylor College of Medicine, Rice University, University of Houston, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
The GCC provides a unique, cutting edge collaborative training environment and research infrastructure beyond the capability of any single institution. The GCC’s mission is to train the next generation of biomedical scientists and to enable scientists to ask and answer questions that cross scientific disciplines to address the challenging biological issues of our time and, ultimately, to apply the resulting expertise and knowledge to the treatment and prevention of disease, building interdisciplinary collaborative research teams and training programs in the biological sciences at their intersection with the computational, chemical, mathematical, and physical sciences.
The GCC’s research arm is comprised of consortia, which serve to catalyze interactions and provide a supportive environment for collaborative research programs that require expertise beyond that available in any one institution.
Currently, the GCC supports over 500 faculty engaged with consortia in Chemical Genomics. Protein Crystallography, Magnetic Resonance, Bioinformatics, Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, and Translational Pain Research.
The symposium is free, open to the public, and sponsored by the Gulf Coast Consortium (GCC) for Protein Crystallography, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, the NSF BioXFEL Science and Technology Center and the Rigaku Corp.
Who: Scientists, students and the public.
What: “International Year of Crystallography: Structure Matters.”
When: Friday, Feb. 14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative, 6500 Main St.
You can find the full agenda and register for the symposium at:
Gulf Coast Consortium for Protein Crystallography
Baylor College of Medicine
Arizona State University