Other Past Lectures and Seminars
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The Strategic Strength in Molecular Recognition in Biological Systems and Bioinformatics presents the Chemical Biology Symposium. The event was sponsored by UB Departments of Biological Sciences, Biochemistry, and Chemistry and the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.
Guest speakers included:
- Professor Robert Batey (University of Colorado)
- Professor Sidney Hecht (Arizona State University)
- Professor Craig Crews (Yale University)
- Professor Wilfred van der Donk (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Illinois)
Professor Robert Batey
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado.
Professor Batey is one of the world leaders in the determination of structures of RNA and RNA-protein complexes. His group has recently reported the structures of the purine and S-adenosylmethionine riboswitches and of an important enzyme that modifies tRNA. These structures, and associated biophysical studies on riboswitches, have provided important insight into the mechanism by which facilitated translation is controlled through the formation of metabolites-RNA complexes. Professor Batey’s work has enabled the rational design of ligands that target riboswitches, and the development of these ligands as therapeutic agents. Professor Batey is also interested in the signal recognition particle (SRP), a ribonucleoprotein that participates in the targeting of proteins for secretion in eukarya, or for insertion into the bacterial inner plasma membrane. Professor Batey is pursuing the ambitious goal of determining the structure of the intact bacterial SRP using X-ray crystallography, combined with broad-based biochemical and biophysical studies.
Professor Sidney Hecht
Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Co-Director of the Center for Bioenergetics in the BioDesign Institute at Arizona State University.
Professor Hecht is an extraordinary bioorganic chemist who has made key contributions to our understanding of the mechanism of action of anti-cancer drugs, including bleomycin and Hycamtin®. He has years of experience in drug design, which he is now applying towards the development of therapeutic agents that target DNA topoisomerase I, and proteins associated with a crippling mitochondrial disease. Dr. Hecht has made key contributions in the development of methods to incorporate unnatural amino acids into proteins, and in studying the properties of proteins that contain novel chemical functionality. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Arnold D. Welch Distinguished Lectureship in Pharmacology and the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and serves as Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Professor Craig Crews
Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale University. Co-Director of the Yale Chemical Genomics Small Molecule Screening Center.
Professor Crews is a pioneer in the emerging field of chemical genetics. His aim is to develop small and readily synthesized molecules to address important questions in biology. Professor Crews and coworkers invented the PROTACS method, which uses small molecules to knockout genes. In principal, this method can induce the in vivo degradation of any protein target. Crews is interested in the total synthesis of natural products and in determining their mechanism of action. His group made a key contribution in identifying and determining the X‑ray structure of methionine aminopeptidase, which is the target of anti-angiogenic agent fumagillin. Professor Crews is a recipient of the 2006 Bessel Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany, and serves as Editor of Chemistry & Biology.
Professor Wilfred van der Donk
Professor of Chemistry, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Professor van der Donk is interested in understanding the mechanism of action of prostoglandin H synthase and lipoxygenases; and, in the discovery and design of new antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents. His studies on lantibiotics, a class of non-ribosomally synthesized cyclic peptide antibacterial agents, recently culminated in the first in vitro biosynthesis of lacticin 481. His group has prepared several isotopically labeled arachidonic acids, which have been used in collaboration with Ah-Lim Tsai and Richard Kulmacz to identify substrate radical intermediates that are formed during the conversion of arachidonic acid into PGG2. Finally, Professor van der Donk is part of a multi-disciplinary and multi-laboratory effort to characterize the pathways for the biosynthesis phosphonate natural products. Van der Donk has received many awards, including the 2006 Cope Scholar Award, the 2007 Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, and the 2009 RSC Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry Lecture Award.