Category: Symposium 2015

Abstracts Available Online

Programs with detailed scheduled will be available at registration for all of our attendees.

Abstracts for all of the symposium presentations are now available online. You can access them in PDF form here: HHGTTPG Symposium Abstracts.


Career Panel Announcement

We are excited to announce a special session as part of our symposium: a Career Panel discussion on May 12 for our grad student and postdoc attendees. This will be an enriching and enlightening experience for all attendees. Our panelists are from a variety of backgrounds and have had great success in their chosen fields after completing their PhD work. They are excited to come share their experiences and advice with you. For those interested, we ask that you register using our Doodle poll ( This event is open to registered attendees! We also encourage you to submit questions to, as our discussion will consist of a Q&A  session with our panelists. We look forward to seeing you there!


Location Change!

In the opening chapter of Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, the protagonist, Arthur Dent, is visited one morning at his home by a bulldozing company and told that his home will be knocked down to make room for a bypass. An understandably vexed Arthur proceeds to exclaim that he would like to have been provided some notice that this was to occur. He is informed that plans were on display at some obscure, poorly accessible location for many months and he should have been prepared. He naturally responds by lying down in front of the bulldozer as a form of protest. A resolution to this conflict is obviated by the destruction of the Earth a short while later to make room for an intergalactic bypass. Arthur fortunately survives by hitchhiking a ride on a nearby spaceship.

In a situation wrought with irony, our group was recently informed that plans have been in place for many months for renovations to take place at our conference venue. Of course, as often happens in these situations, we were not informed at the time of reservation. Plans were probably displayed somewhere. HHGTTG fans that we are, our natural impulse was to also go lie down in front of the building so that renovators could not access our conference site (our group chair may have already tried this). Rather than wait for a more dramatic resolution, the university has graciously accommodated us at a different venue.

The symposium will now take place at the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering in room 1010 (ARMS 1010). Our catered breaks, lunches, poster session, and reception will all take place in the atrium outside the conference room. We will be happy to provide our visitors with maps and directions to the venue upon their arrival.

See you all in ARMS 1010 on May 13! In the meanwhile, keep an eye out for Vogon spaceships.

–posted by Satchal Erramilli

Workshop Announcement!

Structure Determination by

Cryo-Electron Microscopy

May 13, 3:30-4:30 PM

Presented by:

Dr. Wen Jiang and Dr. Daisuke Kihara

Protein structure determination by single-particle cryo-EM has made significant progress in the past decade, with the resolution of recently reported structures improving close to 3 Å. Technical developments in all aspects of the cryo-EM method, including sample preparation, image collection and processing, will allow further improvements in resolution. Computational methods aid the interpretation of EM maps by rapidly analyzing shapes and surfaces. In combination, these methods promise the determination of finer structural details, sufficient for drug design. In this workshop, Dr. Jiang and Dr. Kihara will discuss the practical aspects of high-resolution structure determination by cryo-EM.

On The “Hitchhiker’s Guide…” Theme

If you’re in structural biology, you’ve probably heard of the terms real space and reciprocal space. Some people even spend time thinking about these terms. This is a daunting exercise on its own. But have you ever thought about space, like actual space space? You won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is.

This is one of the many underlying themes of the late Douglas’ Adams sci-fi classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Hitchhiker’s Guide follows the story of Arthur Dent who, forced to leave Earth after its destruction, endures a variety of adventures and pitfalls in a seemingly never-ending quest around the galaxy. During his quest, Arthur suffers a host of strange travel companions, makes some ever weirder acquaintances, and learns a variety of lessons about life, the universe, and everything. For instance, he learns:

1) The Earth is regarded as Mostly Harmless, despite the violence its denizens inflict on one another;

2) A towel is the most important thing a hitchhiker can carry; and

3) Don’t panic.

At this point, you’re probably thinking this theme seems like a stretch for a symposium on protein science, but the Hitchhiker’s Guide also employs evolutionary concepts and scientific principles that are totally relevant to this event. There is a long tangent about the validity of mice models, as well as an excellent digression about a concept called, “Somebody Else’s Problem”. (Those of you who have shared a lab with many others will instantly know what that is.)

Another of my favorite tangents from the book is totally relate-able to all scientists, and definitely biologists. While we are all struggling to understand how life and the universe work, here’s the book’s take on this endeavor. “If ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.” Yea.

Evolution itself is constantly discussed in the series. As Arthur meets dozens of alien civilizations in various stages of development, evolution forms the lens through which every civilization understands one another. In his books, Douglas Adams imagines a universe where evolution is a widely-accepted concept. OK, so maybe this is science fiction.

Political commentary aside, Arthur’s journey is not unlike the quest of a structural biologist, navigating through a universe of fascinating (and occasionally weird) proteins and other macromolecules. We often use evolution (i.e. homology) as a lens to understand the behavior of proteins. There are certainly pitfalls along the way, and at times the quest can seem never-ending. But, no matter the difficulties you encounter, don’t panic! And keep your towel handy.

-posted by Satchal Erramilli

“A History of Crystallization Techniques” – Sponsored Presentation

We hope you’ve checked out our program and our excellent lineup of faculty speakers. In the coming weeks, we will be updating the schedule with a selection of abstracts from the postdocs and graduate students who have made submissions. (We’re still accepting abstracts for talks and posters, for those who have yet to register.) We’re excited to hear from all of them.

We’d like to take this moment to announce a special presentation brought to us by one of our sponsors, Anatrace, on whose behalf Dr. Edward E. Pryor will be joining us.



Dr. Pryor spent his Ph.D. and post-doctoral research examining structure-function relationships of both DNA-binding and membrane proteins. As a Ph.D. student in the lab of Thomas Hollis at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, he determined the crystal structure of the transcriptional regulator AmrZ from the pathogenic bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa, in complex with an 18 base pair DNA duplex. This work helped elucidate how the three domains of AmrZ work in concert to activate and repress potent virulence genes. As a postdoc in the lab of Michael Wiener at the University of Virginia, Dr. Pryor worked as a member of the PSI-Biology funded Membrane Protein Structural Biology Consortium. During his time as part of this group, he crystallized and determined the structure of the integral membrane CAAX protease, Ste24p. Dr. Pryor has since moved on to Microlytic North America, where he is the Technical Key Account Manager. Dr. Pryor will be presenting A History of Crystallization Techniques, focusing on the use of capillaries in the initial stages of crystallography and how advanced uses of this technique have been developed.