Simulations and disease

In most cases of disease, the cause is a complex interplay of various sources, including both genetic and environmental. But in some cases, the cause can be traced to a single mutation in a single gene. In two recent studies, molecular dynamics simulations contributed to our understanding of the function of the specific protein responsible for a particular disease. In the first study, simulations elucidated aspects of the signaling pathway in CFTR, a chloride channel that, when mutated, leads to the disease cystic fibrosis (study). In the second study, simulators teamed up with medical doctors to understand how a mutation to an IL2 receptor protein (pictured) may have led to severe immunological problems in a patient (study and news article). These two examples hopefully point the way towards bringing MD simulations closer to the bedside.

First graduates!

Congratulations to the first students to get their PhDs from the lab! Karl Lundquist, Anthony Hazel, Sunny Hwang, and Curtis Balusek all defended their PhDs at the end of last semester. While Karl is sticking around for a couple months to finish up some projects, Anthony is already moving on to a postdoc with Alex MacKerell at U. Maryland, Sunny is going to do a postdoc in Emad Tajkhorshid’s lab at UIUC, and Curtis is starting a new career at Axis Group. We wish them all the best of luck!

Karl, Anthony, Sunny, and Curtis together for a last meal as group members.

VMD Lite goes to ComSciCon

The first ComSciCon Atlanta was held last week on the Georgia Tech campus. ComSciCon aims to help other graduate students learn novel ways of communicating science to other scientists and to the public. JC and graduate student Curtis Balusek (pictured) presented on VMD Lite as an example of conveying complex dynamical information about biomolecules in an easy-to-understand and visually appealing manner. See more examples of our outreach efforts here.