We just closed out another great Computational Biophysics workshop (the 45th in the series running since 2003!) here in Atlanta. The workshop, sponsored by JC’s former lab in Urbana, covered topics ranging from molecular dynamics to whole cell simulations to even DNA origami! We had about 25 participants from around the southeast (and beyond) spend their week here with us. It was exhausting, but fun, and now we look forward to the next time we will host one again.
Curtis and JC’s work on simulating the transporter BtuB in its native outer-membrane environment is now a featured article in the latest issue of Biophysical Journal. Congrats Curtis!
At the NSF iPoLS meeting at Harvard, which JC, Sunny, and Curtis are presenting at, one of the best talks was given by Nigel Goldenfeld (UIUC).
The homochirality of certain biological molecules, especially amino acids in proteins (all L form) and sugars (all D form), has long been a mystery in biology. What processes in early evolution would have led to biological systems using only one form? Hypotheses have included autocatalytic mechanisms as well as even extraterrestrial origins. However, Goldenfeld has recently shown that there’s been a missing ingredient in many of these: the role of noise! Biological systems operate far from equilibrium, and we often find that noise (“stochasticity”) is a beneficial, even critical element, rather than a detrimental background to be minimized. Goldenfeld and colleagues showed that by incorporating two simple principles, self-replication and noise, homochirality can be established.
JC and Karl just got back from the Molecular Biophysics of Membranes meeting in Snowmass, CO. Along with some great science at the meeting, we also got great views, such as the one of Crater Lake above!
JC just got back from the Canadian Society for Chemistry meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia. While Halifax is a great summer destination, JC was there in particular for a reunion of former students, postdocs, and (current) friends of Benoit Roux organized by Chris Rowley (Memorial University, lower right of the picture). It was a fantastic few days full of good science and great company.