Report on the Biophysical Society meeting in Vancouver, Canada on June 14-17, 2016

Vancouver Group Photo
Vancouver Group Photo

Engineering Approaches to Biomolecular Motors: From in vitro to in vivo

In June, approximately 100 scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds gathered in Vancouver, Canada, at Simon Frasier University for the Biophysical Society thematic meeting, Engineering Approaches to Biomolecular Motors: From in vitro to in vivo.

The program ranged from artificial motors based on DNA, peptides, proteins and supramolecular chemistry, through the engineering of biological motors and their incorporation into nanodevices and on to reconstituted systems and living cells. Theoretical perspectives provided insight into the workings and fundamental operational limits of these machines. The science presented showed that both bottom-up and top-down engineering approaches had reached a level of maturity where major advances are being made into understanding and utilizing molecular motors.

The breadth of the program engaged scientists who do not normally meet together, spawning lively and challenging discussions. Single-molecule methods abounded, spilling from synthetic constructs to cell biology. The program was dense, with 36 presentations plus nine session introductions, yet, the theater remained full until the very end. Thirty-seven posters were presented over two sessions with four students and one postdoc awarded prizes from the Biophysical Journal for their excellent presentations. Each poster presenter delivered a one-minute “flash talk” as part of the oral sessions to raise awareness of their science.

The meeting was capped by a harbor cruise around Vancouver. The weather was perfect allowing the participants to enjoy spectacular vistas of the mountains and bay surrounding Vancouver from the decks of the paddle boat, culminating in a picturesque sunset. During the cruise, there were numerous discussions regarding the potential for subsequent meetings to draw together a similar cohort of scientists to discuss progress in the field and to map the future.

The meeting’s organizing committee members included Zev Bryant, Stanford University, United States, Paul Curmi, University of New South Wales, Australia, Nancy Forde, Simon Fraser University, Canada, Heiner Linke, Lund University, Sweden, and Samara Reck-Peterson, University of California, San Diego, United States.

Paul Curmi, University of New South Wales, Australia