Invited speakers

Invited speakers

#DiscoverBMB symposia cover 11 themes centered on the latest advances and hottest trends in biochemistry and molecular biology. Hear leading experts discuss the latest discoveries and cutting-edge science at these symposium sessions:

Advances in organismal and cellular metabolism

Nika Danial, Harvard Medical School
Gary Patti, Washington University in St. Louis

Metabolism has captured the interest of researchers across many different biological disciplines. We want to facilitate interactions between investigators who may be thinking about the same metabolic themes but who are not typically at the same meetings or conference tracks. The presentations in this symposium will not be organized by discipline but rather by metabolism topic, with the aim of stimulating new discussions and collaborative opportunities.

Metabolic physiology

Chair: Gary Patti

  • Gary Patti, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Deb Muoio, Duke University
  • Nada Kalaany, Harvard Medical School
  • Matt Gentry, University of Kentucky

Metabolism in health and disease

Chair: TBA

  • TBA
  • Jason Tennessen, Indiana University
  • TBA
  • Jing Fan, University of Wisconsin

Organelle metabolism

Chair: Nikia Danial

  • Nika Danial, Harvard Medical School
  • Dale Abel, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Roberto Zoncu, University of California, Berkeley
  • Natalie Niemi, Washington University in St. Louis

Bias in, bias out in data science

Allison Augustus–Wallace, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans

If we are to one day mitigate health disparities, we must turn the microscope on ourselves and better understand the lens through which we see the world and how it affects our work. These symposia will examine the effects of implicit biases on biomedical research. One symposium will be about how experimental design and data interpretation contribute to health disparities. One will be about the social construct of race. The third will be about genetics and artificial intelligence.

Biochemistry of elemental cycling

Jennifer Dubois, Montana State University
Sean Elliott, Boston University

Whether engaging in the molecular construction projects of the carbon, nitrogen or sulfur cycles or simply moving electrons to make a bioenergetic living, microbial organisms harness metals as cofactors to continuously cycle and recycle the environment around us. These symposia will cover recently elucidated mechanisms, insight into how metallocofactors are harnessed to power the redox reactions of life around us, and surprising insights into the connections between metals, microbes and electrons. With concerns for sustainability and a new energy economy, the microscopic world of biological chemistry has much to teach us.

The enzymology of the carbon cycle

Chair: Jennifer Dubois

  • Stephen Ragsdale, University of Michigan
  • Sean Elliott, Boston University
  • Cecilia Gomez Martinez, University of California, Berkeley
  • Kylie Allen, Virginia Tech

Frontiers of the nitrogen cycle

Chair: Eric Hegg

  • Eric Hegg, Michigan State University
  • Yilin Hu, University of California, Irvine
  • Lisa Stein, University of Alberta
  • Akif Tezcan, University of California, San Diego

Metals, microbes and minerals

Chair: Sean Elliott

  • Eric Boyd, Montana State University
  • Jennifer Dubois, Montana State University
  • Jeff Gralnick, University of Minnesota
  • Christine Morrison, Colorado School of Mines

Cell signaling — new tools and emerging concepts

Kevin Gardner, City University of New York
Jin Zhang, University of California, San Diego

Biochemists have made tremendous advances at developing new classes of genetically encoded protein tools to detect and control signaling activities with high spatiotemporal precision. For these symposia, we have assembled experts who will discuss new tools for manipulating and visualizing the activity of enzymes and other classes of protein activity in living cells across a range of settings. We welcome anyone interested in novel protein-based tools to observe and control cellular behavior as well as new concepts in cellular organization that have emerged from use of these reagents.

Toolkit for native biochemistry: Sensors, actuators and computational tools

Chair: Kevin Gardner

  • Kevin H. Gardner, CUNY Advanced Science Research Center
  • Klaus Hahn, Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Sabrina Spencer, University of Colorado Boulder
  • David van Valen, California Institute of Technology

Spatiotemporal control of cellular signaling

Chair: Jin Zhang

  • Jin Zhang, University of California, San Diego
  • Mark von Zastrow, University of California, San Francisco
  • Lukasz Bugaj, University of Pennsylvania
  • Anton Bennett, Yale University

Liquid–liquid phase separation as a signaling paradigm

Chair: Christine Mayr

  • Christine Mayr, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Zhijian "James" Chen, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • Sarah Veatch, University of Michigan
  • Shana Elbaum–Garfinkle, CUNY Advanced Science Research Center

Education and professional development

Margaret I. Kanipes, North Carolina A&T State University

The ASBMB Education and Professional Development Committee will present three symposia on distinct but essential matters in biochemistry and molecular biology education. One will cover how BMB educators are integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning into their classes so that students may learn to think like biochemists and data scientists. Another will be about leading during challenging times — and sustaining effective leadership. The third will be about the lifelong process of cultural humility and how the practice of it fosters inclusive learning and working environments.

Frontiers in carbohydrate synthesis and recognition

Xi Chen, University of California, Davis
Catherine Grimes, University of Delaware

Carbohydrates are indispensable biomolecules that are essential for life. This symposium will showcase recent approaches and advances that have made it easier to synthesize glycans and better understand the roles of carbohydrates in health and disease. Aficionados and the uninitiated alike are welcome to attend and learn about how these developments can advance their research.

Synthesis of glycans for exploring their role in health and disease

Chair: Xi Chen

  • Catherine L. Grimes, University of Delaware
  • Rita Gerardy–Schahn, Hannover Medical School
  • Steven D. Townsend, Vanderbilt University
  • Jerry Troutman, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Chemical glycobiology and tools for glycoscience

Chair: Catherine Grimes

  • Mireille Kamariza, Harvard University
  • Jeff Gildersleeve, National Cancer Institute
  • Lingjun Li, University of Wisconsin
  • Tania Lupoli, New York University

Carbohydrate biocatalysts and glycan-binding probes/materials

Chair: Catherine Grimes

  • Xi Chen, University of California, Davis
  • Barbara Imperiali, Massachuetts Institute of Technology
  • Kelley Moremen, University of Georgia
  • Vered Padler–Karavani, Tel Aviv University

Lipid dynamics and signals in membrane and protein structure

Michael Airola, Stony Brook University
Robert V. Stahelin, Purdue University

Lipids play fundamental roles in cell compartmentalization, stress responses, metabolism, gene regulation, inflammation, and the activation of both cell protective and cell destructive mechanisms. These symposia will feature experts in lipids in microorganisms, lipid metabolism and transport and membrane structure and dynamics. Come for the lipid–protein interactions. Stay for a better understanding of membrane structure and biophysics in cell physiology.

New roles for lipids in microorganisms and viruses

Chair: Michael Airola

  • Robert V. Stahelin, Purdue University
  • Elizabeth Johnson, Cornell University
  • Eric A. Klein, Rutgers University–Camden
  • Nihal Altan–Bonnett, National Institutes of Health

Molecular insight into lipid metabolism and transport

Chair: Abdou Rachid Thiam

  • Michael Airola, Stony Brook University
  • Angeline Lyon, Purdue University
  • Eric Ortlund, Emory University School of Medicine
  • Saskia Neher, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Membrane structure and dynamics

Chair: Robert Stahelin

  • Abdou Rachid Thiam, CNRS, Ecole Normale SupĂ©rieure de Paris
  • Sarah Keller, University of Washington
  • Suzanne Scarlata, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • Ilya Leventhal, University of Virginia

Organelles, mechanisms and phase properties of cellular quality control

W. Mike Henne, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Cheryl Kerfeld, Michigan State University

No longer are organelles thought to be mere compartments within the cell; today they are appreciated as having key roles in fine-tuning metabolism, signaling and quality control in both bacteria and eukaryotes. These symposia will feature new work showing how organelles create microenvironments for metabolic pathways and sense and respond to cues, as well as studies of lipid and protein phase properties that equip organelles to protect cells from stress and maintain organismal homeostasis.

Bacterial organelles

Chair: Cheryl Kerfeld

  • Luning Lu, University of Liverpool
  • Danielle Tullman–Ercek, Northwestern University
  • Cheryl Kerfeld, Michigan State University
  • Arash Komelli, University of California, Berkeley

Phase separation in organelle structure and function

Chair: W. Mike Henne

  • David Savage, University of California, Berkeley/HHMI
  • Martin Jonikas, Princeton University
  • Mike Henne, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • Alex Merz, University of Washington School of Medicine

Inter-organelle communication

Chair: Rushika Perera

  • Karin Reinisch, Yale University
  • Laura Lackner, Northwestern University
  • Sarah Cohen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Rushika Perera, University of California, San Francisco

Protein machines and disorder

Ivaylo Ivanov, Georgia State University
Yan Jessie Zhang, University of Texas at Austin

Protein machines are highly structured, intricate assemblies. Structurally disordered protein regions, not so much. Not only do both play essential roles in life’s processes, but they also make the other work better. That is why they will be the stars of these symposia. We’ll cover protein machines in genome maintenance and gene regulation, methods for the study of disordered proteins and condensates as well as the roles of disordered proteins in disease.

Protein machines at the intersection of genome maintenance and gene regulation

Chair: Jessie Zhang

  • Ivaylo Ivanov, Georgia State University
  • Huilin Li, Van Andel Institute
  • Tanya Paull, University of Texas at Austin
  • Yuan He, Northwestern University

Methodology investigating disordered proteins and condensates

Chair: Ivaylo Ivanov

  • Jeetain Mittal, Texas A&M University
  • Jessie Zhang, University of Texas at Austin
  • Xavier Darzacq, University of California, Berkeley
  • Simon Alterti, Technische Universität Dresden

Disordered protein in diseases

Chair: Rebecca Page

  • James Shorter, University of Pennsylvania
  • Hao Jiang, University of Virginia
  • Pinglong Xu, Zhejiang University
  • Rebecca Page, University of Connecticut

Regulation of RNA

Daniel Dominguez, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Stacy Horner, Duke University

If there were a “Biomolecule of the Year,” RNA would have been the reigning champ for a few years running. A pandemic caused by an RNA virus. Multiple RNA vaccines to defeat it. There’s no competition! These symposia will zero in on RNA regulation. One will feature experts on RNA binding proteins and disease, another will cover RNA modifications and yet another will cover novel RNAs. We welcome the fellow RNA fanatics among us — as well as anyone else curious about the latest approaches to studying its function.

RNA binding proteins and disease

Chair: Daniel Dominguez

  • Daniel Dominguez, Univeristy of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Brenda L. Bass, University of Utah
  • Alfredo Castello, MRC–University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research
  • Kristen Lynch, University of Pennsylvannia School of Medicine

RNA modifications: discovery and function

Chair: Stacy Horner

  • Stacy Horner, Duke University School of Medicine
  • Lydia M. Contreras, University of Texas at Austin
  • Kate Meyer, Duke University School of Medicine
  • Jordan Meier, National Cancer Institute

Novel RNAs: localization, form, function

Chair: Matthew Taliaferro

  • Silvi Rouskin, Harvard Medical School
  • Eliezer Calo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Grace Chen, Yale University
  • Matthew Taliaferro, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus