Interest groups

Interest groups

Interest group sessions epitomize #DiscoverBMB’s maxim — by scientists and for scientists. They bring together attendees with similar scientific and pedagogical concerns to share key findings, exchange ideas and establish rapport. The connections made are so important to the success of #DiscoverBMB that the sessions are held on the very first day. To keep conversations going, interest groups also hold meetups in the exhibit hall on subsequent days.

See up-to-date session dates and times in the schedule

BMB education and active learning

RNA and gene regulation research at primarily undergraduate institutions


Megan E. Filbin, Metropolitan State University of Denver
Neena Grover, Colorado College

Join us to celebrate the innovative ways that undergraduates and faculty at primarily undergraduate institutions are advancing knowledge about RNA and gene regulation. This session will highlight undergraduate research and is a great chance to form collaborations and get ideas for course-based undergraduate research experiences. Plus, connect with the RNA@PUI Supergroup, which was formed to help PUI faculty studying RNA and genome regulation share their approaches year-round.

  • Ribosome regulation at the plasma membrane
    Megan E. Filbin, Metropolitan State University of Denver
  • Quantifying the contributions of non-canonical base pairs and magnesium binding in RNA
    Neena Grover, Colorado College
  • The role of arginine methylation in Ded1’s ability to promote translation
    Angie Hilliker, University of Richmond
  • The role of eIF3 on the ribosome and across the transcriptome
    Colin Echeverría Aitken, Vassar College
  • A tale of two RNAs: How nonstructural protein 1 of SARS coronavirus selectively suppresses host mRNA translation
    Anita Nag, University of South Carolina Upstate
  • Non-coding RNAs regulate gene expression during the progression of diabetic nephropathy
    Nik Tsotakos, Penn State Harrisburg
  • Dissecting how splicing protein Dib1 impacts spliceosome stability and function
    Corina Maeder, Trinity University
  • Applying basic science research in pursuit of SARS-CoV-2 antivirals
    Katie Mouzakis, Loyola Marymount University

Cancer biology and metabolism

Current understanding of DNA base excision repair pathway and its relevance to cancer


Zucai Suo, Florida State University College of Medicine
Patrick O'Brien, University of Michigan Medical School

The DNA base excision repair pathway is one of several DNA repair pathways cells use to fix DNA damage, but when it doesn’t work properly, it can result in mutations that may lead to cancer. Join us for short talks and a roundtable discussion on cutting-edge techniques in biochemistry, biophysics and cell biology that are uncovering key players in DNA base excision repair pathway, including human DNA polymerase beta, DNA ligases, DNA glycosylases and AP endonuclease.

  • Experimental evidence supporting a unified kinetic mechanism of DNA polymerization catalyzed by DNA polymerases
    Zucai Suo, Florida State University College of Medicine
  • Mechanisms of DNA ligase fidelity, the last chance to proofread base excision repair
    Patrick O'Brien, University of Michigan Medical School
  • Mechanisms by which APE1 identifies and repairs AP-sites in the genome
    Bret Freudenthal, University of Kansas Medical Center
  • Cancer-associated variants of MUTYH reveal an allosteric role for its [4Fe-4S] Cluster cofactor
    Sheila David, University of California, Davis


Interorgan communication in cellular and immune homeostasis


Narendra Kumar, Texas A&M University
Jayshree Mishra, Texas A&M University

Let’s talk about body language. This session will explore how the body maintains a fine balance of interorgan communication and what can happen when things get lost in translation. Short talks, panel discussions and a networking event will cover topics like microbiota‒gut‒immune‒brain interactions, signaling mediators of interorgan communication, and the impact of gut luminal environment on tissue cross talk and homeostasis. Find out how interorgan communication research is leading to new drugs and therapy targets for a variety of diseases.

  • Kinases in gut–liver–brain communication and neuroinflammation
    Narendra Kumar, Texas A&M University
  • Interorgan communication as a driver or remote organ inflammation and dysfunction
    Andreas Herrlich, Washington University School of Medicine
  • Prions and amyloids: Common properties leading to disease
    Rodrigo Morales, University of Texas Health Houston
  • The microbiome in preclinical and clinical dementia: How far are we from therapeutic approaches?
    Bernard Fongang, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio

Mass spectrometry-based -omics and disease

Bridging cutting-edge innovation in mass spectrometry-driven proteomics between academic and industrial labs to elucidate novel biology in human disease


Mark R. Witmer, Bristol Myers Squibb
Cheng-Yu Chen, Bristol Myers Squibb

From protein sequences to 3D structures, mass spectroscopy can be used to study almost any aspect of the proteome. This session will highlight the promise of MS-based proteomics for developing new therapies with a special focus on bridging between academic and industry research in this area. Short talks on topics such as using MS-driven proteomics for interrogating therapeutic questions in drug development will be followed by a networking event and panel discussion examining challenges and collaboration opportunities.

  • Easing proteoform analysis by innovating ‘front-end’ sampling solutions for top-down mass spectrometry
    Neil Kelleher, Northwestern University
  • Native MS as a structural biology tool
    Vicki Wysocki, Ohio State University
  • Mass spectrometry-based proteomics for oncology clinical trials
    Yeoun Jin Kim, AstraZeneca
  • Proteomics at scale: Innovations deliver impact across drug discovery and translational research
    Ashok Dongre, Bristol Myers Squibb

Metabolism and metabolic disease

International collaborations to promote global health initiatives


James M. Ntambi, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Edward Eisenstein, University of Maryland

Travel abroad programs have powerful impacts for research trainees and the countries they visit. In this session, learn how global outreach collaborations and international service-learning and research experiences can advance sustainable agricultural, nutritional, health and educational interventions. Find inspiration, make connections and explore program models to bring the power of global scientific engagement to your institution.

  • Interdisciplinary collaborations that enhance malaria research
    Alexis Kaushansky, University of Washington; Seattle Children's Research Institute
  • Increasing access to laparoscopic surgery in low and middle-income countries through human-centered design
    Jenna Mueller, University of Maryland
  • Implementing health interventions for the screening and management of metabolic diseases in low medium income communities
    James M. Ntambi, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Proteasome inhibitors for the treatment of malaria
    Joseph Ready, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Multifaceted mitochondria


Oleh Khalimonchuk, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Laura L. Lackner, Northwestern University

Studies of mitochondria, cell metabolism and aging come together in this popular session to spark synergies and advance research on mitochondria and age-associated disease. Short talks will cover topics such as mitochondrial proteins in mammalian brains, mitochondrial homeostasis, reprogramming mitochondrial metabolism and the roles of folate and vitamin B12 in maintaining mitochondrial DNA integrity. This interactive session is also a great opportunity for young scientists to make connections with more established investigators.

  • Long-lived mitochondrial proteins in mammalian brains — what are they and why do they exist?
    Ewa Bomba–Warczak, Northwestern University
  • Msp1 maintains mitochondrial proteostasis by recognizing a hydrophobic mismatch between the substrate transmembrane domain and the lipid bilayer
    Matthew Wohlever, University of Pittsburgh
  • A mitochondrial complex I deficiency induces iron accumulation and tau aggregation
    Anthony Grillo, University of Cincinnati
  • The roles of folate and vitamin B12 in maintaining mitochondrial DNA integrity and mitochondrial function
    Martha Field, Cornell University
  • The origin story: From mitochondrial fuel switching to cellular differentiation
    Elma Zaganjor, Vanderbilt University

New advances in cardiovascular metabolic disease research


Mei-Zhen Cui, University of Texas Permian Basin
Yabing Chen, University of Alabama at Birmingham

The enormous worldwide health burden of cardiovascular metabolic diseases underscores the urgent need to better understand what causes them and how to intervene. At this session, join the field’s leading researchers for the latest findings on topics such as smooth muscle cell differentiation and vascular signaling, calcification and aging, vascular aneurysm, and cardiovascular complications related to cancer treatment.

  • Metabolic regulation of vascular stiffness and aging
    Yabing Chen, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Molecular mechanisms of sporadic aortic aneurysms and dissections
    Ying H. Shen, Baylor College of Medicine
  • Sodium-glucose cotransporter-2 inhibitors in cardiovascular disease: Effects on vascular cell function
    William Durante, University of Missouri
  • Nuclear FAK reduces atherosclerosis by enhancing reverse cholesterol transport from macrophages
    Steve Lim, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Coronary microvascular dysfunction in metabolic syndrome
    Liya Yin, Northeast Ohio Medical University
  • Lysophosphatidic acid induction of CD14 in macrophages
    Darren Broughton, University of Texas Permian Basin

O-GlcNAc regulation of cellular physiology and pathophysiology


Gerald W. Hart, University of Georgia Complex Carbohydrate Research Center
Lance Wells, University of Georgia Complex Carbohydrate Research Center

O-GlcNAcylation (O-GlcNAc) might be a mouthful, but this hot topic is sure to be the talk of the town at #DiscoverBMB. Get the scoop on the role of this ubiquitous protein modification in nutrient signaling and cellular stress and hear the latest findings on its role in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Studies in this area have yielded drug candidates that are already being tested in clinical trials. The session will include plenty of time for questions and end with a roundtable panel discussion.

  • Characterizing OGT variants causal for X-linked intellectual disability
    Lance Wells, University of Georgia
  • The intersection between O-GlcNAc, autophagy and cytoprotection
    Natasha Zachara, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  • Build it to understand it: synthesis of O-GlcNAc modified proteins in protein aggregation
    Matthew Pratt, University of Southern California
  • Using mutli-omic approaches to solve the riddle of O-GlcNAc
    Chad Slawson, University of Kansas Medical School
  • Dysregulated O-GlcNAcylation is a molecular link to Alzheimer’s disease
    Chia-Wei Huang, University of Georgia

Protein structure, synthesis and folding

Cryo-electron microscopy: from single particle to tomography


Elizabeth Wasmuth, University of Texas Health at San Antonio
John Jimah, Princeton University

One of the hottest trends in structural and cell biology is all about extreme cold. Whether you’re already using cryogenic electron microscopy or want to learn more about this revolutionary imaging technique, you’re sure to enjoy this panel discussion and series of short talks showcasing a wide range of cryo-EM techniques and biological targets. Plus, take part in a special networking session to promote collaboration at the national level and among Texas institutions that are looking to expand state infrastructure to increase access to cryo-EM.

  • John Jimah, Princeton University
  • Shaun Olsen, University of Texas Health at San Antonio
  • David Taylor, University of Texas at Austin
  • Cassandra Hayne, University of Chicago
  • Xiaochen Bai, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School
  • Steven Ludtke, Baylor College of Medicine

TDP-43: from protein folding and structure to aggregation and importance as a biomarker


Fabrizio Chiti, University of Florence
Emanuele Buratti, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

Nuclear complex TDP-43 seems to be at the heart of problematic aggregates involved in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases. This session will consider the many debated aspects of TDP-43, including its folding, structure, oligomerization and self-assembly. Join us to explore how TDP-43 levels might work as a valuable biomarker, the challenges of resolving pathological and functional TDP-43 oligomerization, and the latest structure of TDP-43 inclusions as revealed with cryo-electron microscopy.

  • Platelet TDP-43 controlled RNAs as novel biomarkers of ALS disease
    Emanuele Buratti, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology
  • Biochemical and molecular heterogeneity of human TDP-43 proteinopathies in age-related dementias
    Silvia Porta Antolines, University of Pennsylvania
  • The future of a TDP-43 biomarker for the clinical molecular diagnosis
    Emily Feneberg, Technical University Munich
  • TBD
    Kathy Newell, University of Indiana
  • Molecular pathology of TDP-43 proteinopathies by cryo-EM
    Benjamin Ryskeldi–Falcon, MRC Molecular Biology Lab
  • Detection of proteopathic TDP-43 in neurodegenerative brain extracts
    Sean Jiang, University of California, Los Angeles

Membrane proteins


Francisco Barrera, University of Tennessee
Matthias Buck, Case Western Reserve University

This popular networking event for membrane protein enthusiasts is back again for 2024! Hear how cryogenic electron microscopy, single-molecule approaches, high-speed atomic force microscopy and molecular dynamics simulations are yielding new mechanistic insights and revealing the structure and dynamics of membrane proteins that are central to key cellular processes. Short talks will be followed by a lively Q&A fostering a free exchange of ideas among students, postdocs and established researchers.

  • Signaling mechanisms of the EphA2 receptor in and at the membrane explored by solution NMR and Alphafold2+ molecular dynamics simulation
    Matthias Buck, Case Western Reserve University
  • Visualizing unfolded membrane proteins: Implications for their interactions with chaperones
    Karen Fleming, Johns Hopkins University
  • Allosteric regulation of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling
    Natalia Jura, University of California, San Francisco
  • Structure, dynamics, and inhibition of bacterial multidrug efflux pumps
    Nathaniel J. Traaseth, New York University
  • Harnessing functional mechanisms in MFSD2A transporter protein to enable drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier
    George Khelashvili, Weill Cornell Medicine

Signal transduction

Emerging PTMs: AMPylationPlus part II


Kim Orth, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; HHMI
Anju Sreelatha, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Get amped about the emerging field of AMPylation. Although AMPylation is one of the less-studied post translational modifications, new work suggests it’s an important regulator of many mammalian cellular processes. Hear from scientists working on technology development and disease models to study AMPylation and find out what they’re learning about the biochemical mechanisms involved. We’ll also consider what these findings reveal about the role of this and other post translational modifications in stress, diabetes, neurodegeneration and more.

  • Regulation of UPR and disease: A role for Fic AMPylation
    Amanda Casey, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • A new approach for selective targeting of methyltransferases
    Yogesh Gupta, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
  • Fic-mediated GMPylation
    Seema Mattoo, Purdue University
  • Gaining insights into ADP-ribosylation using chemical approaches
    Michael Cohen, Oregon Health and Science University
  • New insights into mitochondrial protein AMPylation
    Meghomukta Mukherjee, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • AMPylation-mediated regulation of proteostasis in (in-)vertebrates
    Matthias Truttmann, University of Michigan

Nutrient sensing post-translational modifications: metabolism and disease


Lauren Ball, Medical University of South Carolina
Fangliang Zhang, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

The processes by which nutrient-sensing post-translational modifications affect metabolic regulation are the subject of intense investigation. In this session, we’ll examine emerging techniques for detecting nutrient-sensing PTMs and how these modifications affect physiological conditions, metabolic regulation and drug response for diseases, including diabetes and cancer. Learn the latest novel approaches, and network with others who are as pumped about PTMs as you are.

  • ADP-ribosylation in health and disease
    W. Lee Kraus, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • Phosphorylation regulation in chemo resistance
    Pengda Liu, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Crosstalk between O-GlcNAc and mTORC1 signaling: Impact on pancreatic beta-cell mass and function in vivo
    Emilyn U. Alejandro, University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Characterizing the cystine acetylome: Introducing a novel class of short-chain acyl modifications to cysteine
    Keith Keenan, Duke University

Signal transduction: an emergent behavior of biomolecular condensates


Josh Andersen, University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute
Carlos Castañeda, Syracuse University

Protein phase separation is rewriting our understanding of cell signaling. Join us to decipher the mechanisms by which phase separation controls various aspects of cell signaling and the role of post translational modifications in regulating phase separation. Form lasting connections with new colleagues as we explore in-vitro reconstitution experiments and top-down approaches being used to connect biomolecular condensates with cell signaling functions.

  • Intrinsic disorder as an organizing principle for membrane biology
    Jeanne C. Stachowiak, University of Texas at Austin
  • Biomolecular condensates orchestrate oncogenic kinase signaling
    Trever G. Bivona, University of California, San Francisco
  • Intrinsically disordered proteins as thermosensors in plants
    Heather Meyer, Carnegie Institution for Science
  • The role of phase separation in cytokinetic abscission
    Lalit Deshmukh, University of California, San Diego