Molecules and Matter

What is life made up of? How do its components react and interact with each other? To answer these questions, one must study the picture one pixel at a time.
In this session, we will listen to physicists and structural biologists explain the workings of molecular factories such as the autophagy complex, and long chromatin polymers, in unprecedented detail. We will learn about techniques such as single-molecule force spectroscopy and electron cryomicroscopy. We will know, from molecular biologists, biochemists, and geneticists, about the detailed pathways of diseases such as African sleeping sickness: the face-off between an invading parasite and the immune system. We will also learn about how stress affects us at the level of the chromosomes, and gives rise to psychiatric disorders.
Come, join us to zoom into this microcosm, to visualize and appreciate the complexity of life at the molecular level.

Prof. van Noort

Prof. Dr. John van Noort, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands

Chromatin Organization at the Single-Molecule Level


Date: June 6th
Slot: 9:10 – 9:40
EMBL Heidelberg

About the speaker

John van Noort did his PhD in Applied Physics at Twente University. Following his postdoctoral research at Delft University of Technology, he joined Leiden University as a faculty member at the Leiden Institute of Physics. In 2017, he became a professor at Leiden University. Since 2018, he is also a visiting professor at the Nanyang Technological University. Professor John van Noort’s research interest lies in the field of chromatin condensation. He employs a single-molecule approach to study the physics governing DNA condensation and its role in transcription regulation.

Prof. Binder

Prof. Dr. Dr. med. Elizabeth Binder, MPI Psychiatry, Munich, Germany

How Stress gets under the skin – molecular mechanisms of gene x stress interaction: implications for psychiatry


Date: June 7th
Slot: 16:20 – 17:00
Leture Hall DKFZ Communication Center

About the speaker

Elisabeth Binder has studied Medicine at the University of Vienna, Austria and Neuroscience at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, USA. Following a postdoctoral training at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany, she returned to Emory University as an assistant professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Human Genetics. In 2007, she was appointed as research group leader at the Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry within the Minerva Program of the Max Planck Society. Since August 2013, Elisabeth Binder is the director of the Department of Translational Research in Psychiatry at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry. She also holds an appointment as full professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. Her main research interests are the identification of molecular moderators of the response to environmental factors, with a focus on early trauma and gene x environment interactions. She studies how such factors influence trajectories to psychiatric disease or well-being to ultimately use this information for novel prevention and treatment strategies.

Dr. Mugnier

Dr. Monica Mugnier, John Hopkins University, Baltimore (MD), USA

Exploring the dynamics of antigenic variation and VSG diversification in the T. brucei extravascular niche


Date: June 6th
Slot: 09:40 – 10:10
EMBL Heidelberg

About the speaker

Monica Mugnier, Ph.D, joined the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2016 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Her lab focuses on studying African sleeping sickness as well as its causative agent, the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma brucei. Mugnier received her PhD from the Rockefeller University, New York in Biomedical Science, working with African trypanosomes. There she developed VSG-seq, an approach for measuring VSG expression in T.brucei populations in vivo. Throughout the years, she has been given multiple awards, and her work has been featured in many scientific journals such as Science, PLoS Pathogens, Trends in Parasitology and more.

Prof. Sachse

Prof. Dr. Carsten Sachse, EMBL, Heidelberg, Germany

Mechanistic insights into higher order autophagy assemblies by cryo-EM


Date: June 7th
Slot: 15:50 – 16:20
EMBL Heidelberg

About the speaker

Carsten Sachse’s group determines the three-dimensional cryo-EM structures of multiprotein complexes in isolation and their biological context, with a particular focus on elucidating the mechanism of clearance of large molecular cargo through autophagy. From 2010 to 2018, he has been a Group Leader at the EMBL in Heidelberg. He is currently heading the Ernst-Ruska-Centre for Structural Biology at the Research Centre in Jülich while being a professor at the Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf. He is particularly interested in developing software for single-particle cryo-EM, in order to advance cryo-EM and associated image processing methods.

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