A Capitol Event—ASBMB 2011 in Washington, D.C.


2011 annual meeting organizers Kuan-Teh Jeang and Daniel M. Raben.

Washington, D.C., is the place to be from April 9 to 13, 2011. During that time, you will be able to attend the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual meeting, held in conjunction with Experimental Biology 2011, as well as the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The ASBMB meeting will offer a comprehensive and stimulating menu of cutting edge science, technology and new educational approaches. We also have a new format— award lectures and exceptional plenary lectures will be placed in time slots that do not conflict with other scientific presentations.

Ten Outstanding Symposia

The meeting’s 10 scientific symposia will highlight the interests of ASBMB members and also focus on exciting emerging topics that have not been presented at recent meetings. The symposia themes, presented below, cover evolving concepts in protein biochemistry, lipid biochemistry, carbohydrate metabolism and nucleic acid biochemistry. Four thematic symposia will be presented each day of the meeting. Each symposium will include invited speakers as well as short talks chosen from submitted abstracts. Posters related to the symposium topic also will be presented on the day of the symposium.

A subject that has garnered increasing attention in the scientific community is the regulation of protein synthesis and degradation. This topic has implications for a number of research areas, including stress responses and autophagy. Ivan Dikic (Goethe University Medical School) and Ramanujan S. Hegde (National Institutes of Health) will organize a theme addressing this area, titled “Protein Synthesis and Degradation.” The symposium will cover four subtopics: novel aspects of protein translation; membrane protein biosynthesis; protein folding and quality control and protein aggregation and autophagy.

Over the past 30 years, lipid metabolism has emerged as a central theme in biochemistry. Vytas Bankaitis (University of North Carolina School of Medicine) and Teresa Dunn (Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences) have organized an exciting “Lipid and Membrane Metabolism” theme focused on this topic. The symposium will address current discoveries and new ideas in phosphoinositide biology and signaling; sphingolipid metabolism and biological regulation; phospholipase D and phosphatidic acid signaling and the biology of neutral lipid metabolism and trafficking.

Signal transduction always has held the interest of biochemists and molecular biologists. The “Signal Transduction from the Plasma Membrane to the Nucleus” theme for the 2011 meeting will be organized by Karen O’Malley (Washington University School of Medicine) and Journal of Biological Chemistry Associate Editor Charles E. Samuel (University of California, Santa Barbara). Speakers will present research on JAK/STAT signaling; signaling from endosomes and beyond; sensors and adapters in innate immunity; and a topic titled “Synchronizing the Synchronizers,” which should be very timely.

The interplay between metabolism and disease is receiving increasing attention from the scientific community and the media. Barbara E. Corkey (Boston University) and Marc Prentki (Montreal Diabetes Research Center) have organized presentations for a “Metabolism and Disease” theme that will cover mitochondrial function and disease; metabolic communication; metabolic signal transduction and metabolism and cancer.

For those who want to learn more about enzyme catalysis, Squire J. Booker (Pennsylvania State University) and L. Mario Amzel (the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) have put together several lectures in the “Structure, Mechanism and Regulation in Enzyme Catalysis” theme. The talks will shed light on kinases, phosphatases and phosphorus in biological reactions; metals in redox chemistry; processive enzymes and sulfur chemistry in biological redox. These enzymes and processes are found in a wide variety of scientific disciplines, and the lectures will highlight the recent discoveries and emerging concepts unifying these topics.

Fundamental and applied progress in biological therapies depends on understanding chemical biology. The “Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery” theme, organized by Shana O. Kelley (University of Toronto) and Tamara L. Hendrickson (Wayne State University), covers topics for both novice and seasoned investigators. Sessions will include lectures on the chemical biologist’s toolbox; peptide-based drug delivery; drug discovery and biomaterials; novel approaches to high throughput drug discovery; and the chemical biology of human disease.

The biochemistry of RNA is a classic, as well as a new, topic. For the “Biochemistry of RNA” theme, E. Stuart Maxwell (North Carolina State University) and Tina M. Henkin (Ohio State University) have organized presentations on recent discoveries of RNA-based gene regulation in bacteria; RNA editing and nucleotide modification; RNA/RNP transport and localization and small RNA regulation of mRNA translation. RNA research has become a fast paced area, and the thematic talks promise to be very stimulating and thought-provoking.

Complementing the RNA theme is a “DNA Replication, Recombination and Repair” theme. Joann B. Sweasy (Yale University School of Medicine) and Marlene Belfort (Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health) will chair this symposium. They will select speakers to provide insight on aberrant DNA repair; genomic instability and cancer; site-specific recombination in chromosome dynamics and gene therapy; replication of non-canonical DNA sequences and genomic instability and retroelements in genome plasticity and cancer. If you are interested in DNA research, you won’t want to miss these talks.

Qiang Zhou (University of California, Berkeley) and Karolin Luger (Howard Hughes Medical Institute/Colorado State University) will spearhead the “Biochemistry of Transcription and Chromatin Structure/Organization” theme. They have put together a program encompassing new concepts of RNA polymerase pausing and elongation; transcriptional regulation in cell growth, differentiation and disease; the mechanisms of structural transitions in chromatin and alternative chromatin structures.

And finally, the ASBMB Minority Affairs Committee is sponsoring a special symposium on obesity. The lecture series, titled “The Frontiers in Obesity Research,” will explore system physiology modeling of human metabolism and body weight changes; the quantification and therapeutic potential of brown adipose tissue; the biochemistry of addiction; cardiac complications of obesity and the potential use of dietary garlic to prevent the development of, or alleviate, obesity and diabetes in mice. There also will be lectures on strategies for obesity prevention; the role of stearoyl-coA desaturase in energy metabolism; the adipose renin-angiotensin system; obesity and insulin resistance and adipokine regulation of energy and glucose homeostasis.

Topical and Technical Workshops

We also have organized a workshop in collaboration with the Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery and Metabolism and Disease theme. The workshop will focus on mitochondrial-metabolic defects and chemical strategies for addressing these problems. Another workshop on transcription and chromatin also is being planned.

Exploring Educational Challenges

Each year, the Education and Professional Development Committee offers programming that explores educational challenges. For 2011, the committee has organized a session titled “It Didn’t Work! Coping with ‘Failure’ for Students and Professionals.” This symposium will cover ways to foster interactions between college and university scientists and high schools; how to deal with frustrations at the bench; developing classroom management skills; mentoring students in the research laboratory and the art of collaboration. These topics especially should appeal to the young scientists and their teachers.

Look for more information in the individual themes and award lectures in future issues of ASBMB Today. Additional details on all the activities planned for the 2011 meeting and how to register and submit abstracts will also be forthcoming.

Daniel M. Raben (draben@jhmi.edu) is director of the ASBMB Lipid Division and also a professor in the department of biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Kuan-Teh Jeang (kjeang@niaid.nih.gov) is chief of the molecular virology section of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

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