Middlebury

 

2014 - 2015 Seminar Series

Oct. 3, 2014:  Professor Laura Vandenberg, Ph.D., UMass Amherst
12:30 pm, MBH 216

"From hormones to endocrine disruptors: lessons learned (and not learned)" 
 "We live in a chemical stew. With tens of thousands of chemicals on the market, human exposures to many compounds are widespread. In fact, scientists have measured hundreds in the human body  - including the bodies of newborns. Some of these chemicals, so-called endocrine disruptors, interfere with the actions of hormones in the body. Research from epidemiology, behavioral sciences, cell biology, environmental health sciences, toxicology, molecular biology and many other fields has contributed to our knowledge about endocrine disruptors. This talk will review some of the latest science - and discuss why public health professionals have struggled to deal with how these chemicals should be tested and regulated. We will also delve into the political arena that surrounds discussions of endocrine disruptors, and whether much of the ongoing controversy is an example of 'manufactured doubt'." 

Co-Sponsored by the Department of Biology, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Program in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, and Program in Environmental Studies

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Oct. 16 & 17, 2014: Dr. Martin Chalfie, Nobel Laureate,
University Professor, Biological Sciences, Columbia University

Public Talk: "GFP: Lighting Up Life"
Thurs Oct 16 at 7:30pm in Dana Auditorium
GFP and other fluorescent proteins have revolutionized biology because they allow scientists to look at the inner workings of living cells. The story of the discovery and development of GFP provides a very nice example of  the importance of basic research on non-traditional organisms and of how scientific progress is often made: through accidental discoveries, the willingness to ignore previous assumptions and take chances, and the combined efforts of many people. 

Science Talk:
"Mechanosensory Transduction and its Modification in C. elegans"
Friday Oct 17 at 12:30pm in MBH 216

Although biologists have known the molecules that allow us to see and smell, they have been much less successful discovering the molecules that sense mechanical signals.  Using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, we have identified channel proteins that sense gentle touch and additional mechanisms that change the sensitivity of these mechanosensory channels.  These changes allow the animals to respond differentially to touch under various environmental conditions and to change the priority of sensory signals

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October  31        Prof. Ivan Gitsov, SUNY ESF
1:45PM, MBH 216   
"Molecular tress and capsules: Synthesis, properties, and potential applications of dendritic and hyperbranched polymers"

This talk will present our latest results in the synthesis and application of materials containing linear and perfectly branched (dendritic) fragments. These linear-dendritic copolymers are able to self-assemble in water forming well defined nano-containers, which are able to bind substantial amounts of various hydrophobic substances. This property is used to construct nano-size reaction vessels for reactions of small molecules under environmentally friendly conditions. The same principle is applied to form semi-artificial enzymes (supramolecular complexes of an enzyme and amphiphilic linear-dendritic block copolymers) and perform mild polymerizations of hydrophobic natural substrates. The polymerization, which will be the focus of discussion, involves tyrosine as the substrate/monomer and leads to an unnatural poly(amino acid), a polymer with free amino- and carboxylic groups at every repeating unit. This material is intrinsically biocompatible and shows rather unusual solution behavior due to the polybetaine nature of the macromolecules.

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November 7    Prof. Isaac Krauss, Brandeis University
1:45PM, MBH 216  
“Combining Organic Synthesis and Evolution to Design HIV Vaccines"

The Krauss lab is involved in development of novel organic reactions, as well as the application of organic chemistry to HIV vaccine development and chemical glycobiology. To begin this seminar, we will discuss the development of cyclopropanated allylation reagents which exhibit homoallylation activity. Reacting through Zimmerman-Traxler transition states, these reagents selectively afford stereochemical patterns not easily accessed by other methods.

In the second part, we will describe a new method for design of carbohydrate HIV vaccines, which combines organic synthesis and directed evolution techniques. This work originates from the observation that some HIV positive individuals produce antibodies which are broadly neutralizing and protective against HIV infection. One such antibody, 2G12, recognizes and binds to a cluster of carbohydrates on the viral envelope protein gp120. Our goal is to develop synthetic carbohydrate clusters which closely mimic the viral carbohydrate cluster, and which might thus elicit a 2G12-like antibody response when used as a vaccine. In order to design carbohydrate clusters which closely mimic gp120, we have developed evolution-based strategies, in which immobilized 2G12 is used to recognize and fish out the best glycocluster mimics of gp120 from amongst large libraries of ~10 trillion different glycosylated peptide- or DNA structures. The glycocluster structures obtained by these methods are recognized by antibody 2G12 as strongly as is the viral protein itself, and are thus of great interest for vaccine studies.

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Friday, Nov. 14    Professor Paula Diaconescu, UCLA
1:45PM, MBH 216  
“Unique advantages of organometallic supporting ligands”

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