Professor Kostas Thalassinos’s inaugural lecture on Thursday, 8th June

We are delighted to invite you to Professor Kostas Thalassinos’s inaugural lecture, “My Time of Flight – From Genes to Proteins via Mass Spectrometry”, on Thursday 8th June at 5pm in the J Z Young Lecture Theatre (UCL Anatomy Building, Gower Street), followed by a drinks reception.

Tickets are free and everyone is welcome but please sign up via the Eventbrite link so we can know numbers for catering.


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Research seminar on Friday, 2nd June: Observing DNA Repair Proteins – Protecting our Genomes from Cancer: From Cells to Single Molecules

This Friday, 2nd June, at 2pm there will be a joint visit from the single-molecule technology company Lumicks and Professor Ben van Houten from the University of Pittsburgh. Professor van Houten will give a talk titled ‘Observing DNA Repair Proteins – Protecting our Genomes from Cancer: From Cells to Single Molecules’ and Lumicks will showcase the applications of their optical tweezers single-molecule technology.

The event will be held in the Darwin Building, Room B15.

Anyone interested is welcome. If you would like to attend, please could you contact g.king@ucl.ac.uk.

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Postgraduate Research Symposium, 15-16th June 2023

This year’s ISMB Postgraduate Research Symposium will be held at the Birkbeck Clore Management Centre, on 15th and 16th June. The symposium provides an opportunity to find out about the research studies of PhD students within the ISMB. The second day of the symposium will feature a talk by keynote speaker, Dr. Mike Blackman from the Francis Crick Institute. The title of Dr. Blackman’s talk is ‘Malaria parasite egress from the host red blood cell: a tale of PKG, proteases and puzzles’.

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ISMB Retreat 2023

The biennial ISMB Retreat is returning this year on 4th – 5th July, at Clare College Cambridge. This year’s retreat will feature keynote speakers such as Sir Tom Blundell (University of Cambridge), Professor Charlotte Deane (University of Oxford Department of Statistics), Professor Sonia Ghandi (The Francis Crick Institute Neurodegeneration Biology Laboratory), Dr Jan Lowe (MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology), Stacey Southall (Sosei Heptares) and Luigi Martino (Wellcome Trust). More details to follow.

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David Jones elected as Fellow of the Royal Society

In recognition for his outstanding contributions to science, ISMB member Professor David Jones (UCL Computer Science) has been elected Fellow of the Royal Society. Full article here.

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Nobel Prize in Chemistry for Bio-Inspired Catalysts

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2021 has been awarded to German Benjamin List and British David MacMillan.
Prof Stefan Howorka from the ISMB at UCL Chemistry explains: ‘The two researchers have developed a new class of catalysts that are inspired by Nature. Enzymes are widely used in biology as they initiate and specifically control biochemical reactions to achieve the desired stereochemistry while limiting the creation of undesirable by-products. Reconstructing these catalytic functions with smaller and cheaper synthetic units is of considerable scientific and industrial interest. Ideally, synthetic catalysts should also avoid precious metals such as platinum which are not environmentally friendly.
List and MacMillan succeeded independently of each other in developing efficient biomimetic and “green” catalysts. In the late 1990s, List wondered whether amino acids found in the enzymes’ active site would also be able to achieve part of the same catalytic role if added in isolation. As proof-of-principle, List tested the catalytic properties of proline and related compounds in an aldol reaction. The specific question was whether the use of a chiral proline would control the stereochemical outcome of the reaction. Indeed, the chirality of the catalyst controlled which enantiomer of the aldol products was formed.
MacMillan was working in the same field. MacMillan was motivated to develop new catalysts that avoid the widely used metals. Rather, he focused on environmentally harmless and inexpensive organic frameworks that contain -in addition to carbon- oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur or phosphorous. Similar to List, MacMillan also tested chiral versions of his organic catalysts but with a different reaction, the Diels-Alder cycloaddition. The reaction was successful as enantiopure products formed depending on the chirality of the catalysts.
Reflecting the catalysts’ composition and enantioselective control, MacMillan coined the term ‘asymmetric organocatalysis’ This new field has grown dramatically and develops simple, easy-to-manufacture and environmentally friendly catalyst. This has a huge impact in science and industry to produce new pharmaceuticals or molecules that can capture light in solar cells. This year’s Nobel prize and the Nobel prize given in 2018 for ‘the directed evolution of enzymes’ underscore the importance of developing new catalytic tools, Prof Howorka concludes.

J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2000, 122, 2395-2396; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2000, 122, 4243-4244

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Rosetrees Trust Grant

The Wallace Group has recently received a 3-year grant from the Rosetrees
for work on: ‘“Seeing” General Anaesthetics Bound to Sodium
Channels: Using Novel Structure/Function Information for Molecular
Understanding and Design, Enabling Improved Function and Safety
’ – a
collaboration with Professor Hugh Hemmings’ Lab at the Weill Cornell Medical
in New York.

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Professor Steven Perkins’ paper featured on the cover of Biochemical Journal

Professor Steven Perkins (Professor of Structural Biochemistry, UCL) made the front cover of October’s Biochemical Journal (vol. 476, issue 19) with his latest paper:

Crystal structure of zinc-α2-glycoprotein in complex with a fatty acid reveals multiple different modes of protein-lipid binding

A joint project with UCL Medicine and the University of Bedfordshire, it is a combination of work done on Professor Perkins’ new analytical ultracentrifuge, protein crystallography and recombinant proteins.

Citation: Lau, A. M., Zahid, H., Gor, J., Perkins, S. J., Coker, A. R. & McDermott, L. C. (2019) Crystal structure of zinc-α2-glycoprotein in complex with a fatty acid reveals multiple different modes of lipid binding. Biochem. J. 476, 2815-2834.
Posted by ubcg03u in News, Publications, Uncategorised