April 2011

Annual meeting scientific workshops

Have you always wanted to explore research concepts outside your own field but never had the time? The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is pleased to offer two research-based workshops at the 2011 annual meeting. Bring new skills and perspectives to your lab after joining us for the educational and networking events described below.


Lipids, lipids everywhere

Lipid research is a broad and interdisciplinary field encompassing work at the organism, cellular and molecular levels. To provide an introduction to and discussion about the current state of lipid research, ASBMB is holding a roundtable workshop on Monday, April 11 titled “Lipid basics: phosphoinositides and sphingolipids in health and disease.” The workshop is being organized by Robert Stahelin of Indiana University School of Medicine-South Bend and the University of Notre Dame, and presenters will include lipid experts Julie Saba of the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Charles Chalfant of Virginia Commonwealth University and Edgar Kooijman of Kent State University.

Click here to read the 2011 annual meeting thematic overviews.

For information on the annual meeting, click here.

The workshop will highlight the roles of phosphoinositides and sphingolipids in cellular homeostasis as well as the tools available to analyze them. There also will be a discussion on the basics of working with phosphoinositides and sphingolipids in vitro and in cellular and animal models of diseases. Our aim is to bring together scientists from around the globe to summarize concisely the basics of the lipid research field. The format will include brief presentation and discussion sessions to illustrate where the field is headed and how the gaps may be filled in with new technologies.

The target audience for the workshop is scientists interested in learning about the lipid field as well as those new to phosphoinositide and sphingolipid work. Our hope is to provide attendees with a basic understanding of phosphoinositide and sphingolipid signaling while teaching them appropriate handling methods and available technologies for experimental analysis. All levels of expertise are encouraged to attend, including those with extensive lipid research experience who may help provide critical discussion points. Avanti Polar Lipids has agreed to sponsor the session and will hold a drawing for a free lipid extruder at the event.

I think it’s mitochondrial dysfunction, but how do I measure it?

We commonly use the term “mitochondrial dysfunction” to describe abnormal mitochondrial function that impacts cellular viability or function. But how can it be measured? The ASBMB workshop “Measuring Mitochondrial Function and Dysfunction” on Sunday, April 10 will give an overview of the basic principles of studying a variety of mitochondrial parameters and will explore the current methodologies available. It also will address the rationale behind choosing certain bioenergetic tests and will explain the interpretation of the results. Workshop organizer Orian Shirihai of Boston University has lined up three great speakers for this event.

In his lecture titled “The study of mitochondrial membrane potential,” David Nicholls of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging will describe the principles of measuring changes in mitochondrial delta psi and comparing mitochondrial delta psi of different cell samples. He also will explain the considerations that should be taken into account when choosing a fluorescent probe. Membrane potential commonly is studied by microscopic imaging, and Nicholls will discuss the interpretation of the data obtained from imaging using membrane potential dyes. Nicholls also will demonstrate an EXCEL-based simulation that he developed to allow researchers to run dry experiments in silico, a practice that can help in the design of an experiment.

David Ferrick of Seahorse Bioscience will describe the principles of studying mitochondrial oxygen consumption in his lecture “The study of mitochondrial respiratory function.” He will explain the choice of using intact cells versus isolated mitochondria and also give an overview of the bioenergetic parameters collected during an oxygen consumption study and their biological significance. Finally, he will outline the design of an experiment used for the initial assessment of bioenergetic dysfunction and the interpretation of its results. And don’t forget to ask Ferrick about measuring oxygen consumption from fixed tissue!

And finally Shirihai will give a lecture titled “The study of mitochondrial dynamics and autophagy,” which will describe common changes in mitochondrial architecture and their interpretation. Shirihai will outline the morphological changes that point toward alterations in mitochondrial fusion activity and describe the more sophisticated tests for quantification of fusion as well as the approaches to the study of mitochondrial motility and autophagy.

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