Genetics Training Grant Symposium to be held Sep 2

The Genetics Training Grant at Brandeis (GTG) is an important part of the graduate programs in Molecular & Cell Biology and Biochemistry & Biophysics, teaching students to critically evaluate both their own research and the scientific literature, while also developing their communication skills. The annual symposium, organized and hosted by the GTG students, is central to this mission. This year’s GTG Symposium is entitled “Signal Transduction: Insights gained from diverse species”, and will take place on September 2.  Four distinguished scientists will be presenting their recent work:

  • Gary Ruvkun (Harvard Medical School), our Keynote Speaker, will speak about neuroendocrine control of C. elegans development, metabolism and longevity;
  • Marcia Haigis (Harvard Medical School) will present her work on mitochondrial sirtuins and aging;
  • Morris White (Children’s Hospital Boston) will talk about the molecular basis of mammalian insulin-like signaling in the pathophysiology of metabolic disease;
  • Cynthia Bradham (Boston University) will present work on secondary axis specification and patterning in the sea urchin.

These talks will be followed by a Poster Session and Reception (see schedule). Current and former GTG trainees will be presenting posters from 3:40 to 5:00 PM in the Shapiro Science Center Atrium, All life sciences graduate students are encouraged to present posters.

The entire event is free and open to the public.  For planning purposes, we ask anyone attending the symposium and/or presenting a poster to pre-register by August 24th, 2011. Poster titles will be available after registration is complete.

Please join us for this exciting symposium showcasing genetics at Brandeis.

Mapping hydrogens in chymotrypsin structures with neutron diffraction

In a new paper “Time-of-flight neutron diffraction study of bovine γ-chymotrypsin at the Protein Crystallography Station” published in this month’s edition of the journal Acta Cryst F, Biochemistry grad student Louis Lazar and co-workers from the Petsko-Ringe lab report progress on their project to determine exact hydrogen positions in proteins using neutron diffraction.

Neutron diffraction was chosen, as opposed to X-ray diffraction, because one can visualize hydrogen species directly using neutrons, while it is extremely difficult and in most cases impossible to do so using X-ray diffraction. They chose the protein γ-chymotrypsin in order to determine hydrogen positions, as it fills the necessary requirements to be suitable for a neutron diffraction experiment. These requirements include a very large crystal size (> 1 mm3), moderately sized unit cell axes (no dimension greater than 100 Å), and it must be very stable as well as well-characterized. γ-chymotrypsin is the stereotypical serine protease, cleaving C-terminal to aliphatic and aromatic residues and containing a catalytic triad of serine, histidine, and aspartate. This information on hydrogen placement can then be applied to improve computational methods in which said placement is paramount, such as molecular modeling and rational drug design.

The paper details the collection of neutron data at pD (pH*) 7.1, with the help of the scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In particular, from the initial maps, they note that the catalytic histidine is doubly protonated, while the serine and aspartate making up the catalytic triad do not show density for the presence of deuterium. In order to complete the study of γ-chymotrypsin, data at a variety of pH values must be collected; data at pD (pH*) 5.6 has already been collected (Acta Cryst F65, 317-320), and data at pD (pH*) 9.0 will be collected in the future.

see also: full text of article (Brandeis users)

Biochemistry, Biophysics and Quantitative Biology Retreat 2010

Grad students, postdocs and faculty from the Graduate Program in Biochemistry & Biophysics and from the interdisciplinary program in Quantitative Biology gathered for their Annual Retreat October 21-22, 2010 at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. See the program here.

Connecting with underrepresented minorities in the sciences

For the past six years, Brandeis has been participating yearly at two undergraduate-oriented conferences in an effort to recruit the best minority students for the life sciences graduate programs. These two conferences are: SACNAS (Society for advancing Hispanics/chicanos and Native American in science) and ABRCMS (Annual Biomedical research conference for minority students).

This year SACNAS was held at Anaheim, CA during September 30 and October 3. Professor Jim Morris and 2 graduate students represented Brandeis and interacted with post-docs, graduate students, pre college teachers, undergrads and other 300 exhibitors. The theme of this year conference was Science, Technology & Diversity for a Sustainable Future. In addition, SACNAS combined efforts with MAES (Society for Mexican American engineers and scientists) in order to make the experience more interdisciplinary.

For the past 30 years SACNAS has been holding this conference to enforce the underrepresented minority population in science to pursue advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership. A Brandeis SACNAS chapter was created over a year ago, in order to provide information and give access to professional tools to all the undergrads interested in pursuing careers in science. This year, the Brandeis SACNAS chapter was recognized during the meeting as a new chapter, and 9 of our undergraduates participated in the conference; 2 of them Angel Garcia and Kerwin Vega, presented their research in the poster sessions. You can also connect with the Brandeis chapter on Facebook.

– Yaihara Fortis

Protected by Akismet
Blog with WordPress

Welcome Guest | Login (Brandeis Members Only)