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Workshop Programme

for period 20 - 23 January 2004

Towards a Predictive Biology

20 - 23 January 2004


Tuesday 20 January
Session: Towards a Predictive Biology
15:30-16:30 Fisher, ME (Maryland)
  Theory for molecular motors: may be predictive? Sem 1
Wednesday 21 January
Session: Towards a Predictive Biology
09:00-10:00 Ogunnaike, B (Delaware)
  Cellular modelling of cancer - do we have the tools? Sem 1
10:00-11:00 Bray, D (Cambridge)
  Intracellular signalling in a molecular jungle: insights from bacterial chemotaxis Sem 1

The set of biochemical reactions by which an E. coli bacterium detects and responds to distant sources of attractant or repellent molecules is probably the simplest and best understood example of a cell signalling pathway. The pathway has been saturated genetically and all of its protein components have been isolated, measured biochemically, and their atomic structures determined. We are using detailed computer simulations, tied to experimental data, to ask how the pathway works as an integrated unit. Increasingly we find that the physical location of molecular components within the molecular jungle of the cell interior is crucial for an understanding of their function.

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11:30-12:30 Leibler, S (Rockefeller)
  Genetic and biochemical networks: a physicist's perspective Sem 1
14:00-15:00 Nelson, P (Pennsylvania)
  Integrating biological physics into the undergraduate curriculum: the US National Academy report and beyond Sem 1
15:30-16:30 Hansen, J-P (Cambridge)
  Simple models for ion channels: selectivity, intermittency and ion transport Sem 1
Thursday 22 January
Session: Towards a Predictive Biology
09:00-10:00 Dill, K (UCSF)
  Protein folding kinetics: some new twists on the transition state idea Sem 1

Some proteins fold very rapidly and with single-exponential kinetics. Despite this simplicity, the underlying microscopic processes are heterogeneous. Different molecules fold along different micro-routes. The energy landscapes are funnel-shaped. What are the routes and the rate-limiting steps? We explore the folding process with master equations. We find that the bottlenecks are sometimes heterogeneous. The reason for the folding speed is that proteins can fold via "zipping": multiple small localized optimization steps, rather than a single global optimization.

10:00-11:00 Frenkel, D (Amsterdam)
  Random design: a litany of ignorance Sem 1
11:30-12:30 Durbin, R (Sanger, Cambridge)
  Genomic data and prediction: the value of comprehensive information Sem 1
14:00-17:00 Informal discussions
Friday 23 January
Session: Towards a Predictive Biology
09:00-10:00 Townsend, R (Royal Society of Chemistry)
  The roles of the chemical sciences in predictive biology Sem 1
10:00-11:00 Templer, R (Imperial)
  Who cares about lipids anyway? Sem 1

Open any Cell Biology textbook and you will see that the lipid component of the membrane is essentially boring. As far as the Singer and Nicholson model is concerned the lipid bilayer is simply an impermeable, two-dimensional, liquid partitioner of the cellular compartments. The great majority of Cell Biologists therefore believe that lipids play no further role in the inner functioning of the cell, rather that they passively follow the behaviour of the cell’s only truly active components - the proteins, the DNA and its associated machinery. I will present evidence that strongly suggests that this picture is simplistic, and that proteins and lipids interact in a complex way, regulating each others behaviour.

11:30-12:30 Walker, J (Cambridge)
  Rotary motors Sem 1

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