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UCL Symposium on the Origins of Life

The Second UCL Symposium on the Origins of Life | Monday 21 July 2014

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About the symposium

The origins of life is one of the biggest, most exciting and most elusive questions in science. Getting at an answer requires skills and expertise from across many disciplines, transcending traditional boundaries between subjects. The UCL Origins of Life Programme brings together researchers from diverse backgrounds and seeks to foment a melting pot of cross-disciplinary ideas and expertise.

The Second UCL Symposium on the Origins of Life is a one-day platform bringing together world-class scientists researching disciplines from planetary sciences to the chemistry of nucleic acids, from bioenergetics to phylogenetics. International speakers are presenting their work alongside prominent researchers from UCL, and the organisers hope that this meeting will serve as inspiration for people working on this subject matter and a wider audience interested in the origins of life on earth. The scientific organisers are Professor Finn Werner and Dr Nick Lane.

Registration and attendance is FREE. All are welcome but please register quickly to guarantee a place.

We are grateful to the following groups for supporting this symposium:

  Provisional programme
  The Second UCL Symposium on the Origins of Life
Monday 21 July 2014
Introduction and Welcome from Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL
  Session 1: Cosmological and planetary origins
Session chair: Dr Nick Lane
'Cosmological origins'
Dr Francisco Diego, UCL

'Exogenous delivery of the building blocks of life by comets and asteroids'
Dr Zita Martins, Imperial College

'Eo- and Paleoarchean graphitic carbon as biosignature'
Dr Dominic Papineau, UCL
Tea and Coffee Break
  Session 2: Chemical origins of life
Session chair: Professor Finn Werner
'Prebiotic amphiphiles, early membranes and protocell functions'
Dr Pierre-Alain Monnard, University of Southern Denmark
'On the chemical origins of RNA'
Dr Matt Powner, UCL
'Towards RNA self-replication'
Dr Philipp Holliger, MRC LMB
'The engines of gene expression – RNA polymerase'
Dr Fabian Blombach, UCL
Lunch Break
  Session 3: Origins of biochemistry
Session chair: Professor John Ward

'Proto-Bioenergetics. Energy Currencies and Coupled Chemical Reactions'
Dr Terry Kee, University of Leeds
'From the origins of glycolysis and the pentose phosphate pathway to modern cellular metabolism'
Dr Markus Ralser, University of Cambridge
'Terrestrial origin of cells at anoxic geothermal fields'
Professor Armen Mulkidjanian, Universität Osnabrück
Tea and Coffee Break
  Session 4: Origins of cells
Session chair: Professor Andrew Pomiankowski

'A bioenergetic basis for the divergence of archaea and bacteria'
Dr Nick Lane, UCL

'The evidence for an archaeal origin of eukaryotes'
Dr Tom Williams, Newcastle University

'Rooting the eukaryotic tree'
Professor Sandra Baldauf, Uppsala University
Closing remarks
Professor Finn Werner, UCL

Drinks Reception

Special Guest Lecture: Stop arguing, you're all wrong. This is what really happened
Dr Adam Rutherford



Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology, University of London
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