Monthly Tuesday Research Talks

Starting on December 2020, every first Tuesday of the month, we have a seminar held by one of our trainees at 4 pm until 4:30 pm. Check out some of our previous seminars organized by Nadia Ayad below:

May 2021: Jasmine King

Jasmine King, a graduate student in the Bioengineering program, member of the McDevitt Lab and a Career and Development Officer for BE-STEM, presented the talk titled: Modeling the Impact of the Autonomic Nervous System on the Development of Human iPSC-Sinoatrial Nodal Cells

Abstract: My research in the McDevitt Lab focuses on developing an iPSC-derived model of the Sinoatrial Node (SAN) to study the influence of innervation on SAN development and responsiveness to neuronal stimulation. The SAN is innervated by the autonomic nervous system; furthermore, the timing and chronology of cardiac innervation are evolutionarily conserved among most mammals, which suggests an important role for innervation in cardiac development. It has been difficult to study SAN innervation in vivo because chemical denervation approaches have systemic repercussions, and surgical denervation is technically challenging. To address the challenges of SAN models, I am leveraging the capabilities of iPSCs in order to study the impact of the autonomic nervous system on the development of iPSC-sinoatrial nodal cells.

April 2021: Christina Stephens

Christina Stephens, a graduate student in the Biophysics program and an Outreach Officer for BE-STEM in the Grabe lab, presented the talk titled: Investigating the Atomistic Mechanisms of TMEM16 Scramblases

Abstract: Membrane lipid composition plays a central role in establishing the physical characteristics of cellular membranes and changes in this composition initiate important cell signaling events such as platelet aggregation and apoptosis. One of these changes is the collapse of lipid asymmetry across the membrane carried out by members of the Ca2+-activated transmembrane protein 16 (TMEM16) family of lipid scramblases. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulation offers a way to study the atomistic interactions of the lipids and protein that could aid in determining the scrambling mechanism. Although several members of the field have been able to visualize full lipid translocation events using MD simulations, the events are rare enough that only a handful of observations have been made. To overcome this shortcoming, we employed an enhanced sampling method called Weighted Ensemble (WE) to enrich these rare events thereby generating an ensemble of pathways from which we can extract both the kinetics and energetics of the translocations.

March 2021: Chase Webb

Chase Webb, a graduate student in the Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmacogenomics Program in the Manglik and Shoichet lab and the co-president of BE-STEM, presented the talk titled: Traversing Chemical Space to Understand Opioid Function

Abstract: Opioids are front-line analgesics and have been used for over 6000 years. Still, they have dose limiting liabilities including lethal respiratory depression, addiction, tolerance, and gastrointestinal disturbances. This project seeks to leverage exploding virtual chemical libraries and a growing structural understanding of the µOR - the main target of clinical and illicit opioids -to design novel opioids devoid of the current limitations.

February 2021: Muryam Gourdet

Muryam Gourdet, a graduate student in the TETRAD program and in the Narlikar lab, and an Outreach Officer for BE-STEM, presented the talk titled:  Incomplete chromatin particles are a preferred substrate for a conserved chromatin structure

Abstract: DNA dependent processes, such as transcription, are highly regulated by various factors including chromatin structure. The dynamic nature of this structure is regulated by ATP-dependent molecular motors (chromatin remodelers). I study the mechanisms that regulate the highly conserved chromatin remodeler, INO80. I unveiled that this remodeler preferentially acts on an incomplete chromatin particle providing biochemical evidence to support the model that INO80 restores chromatin disrupted by factors including RNA polymerase.

December 2020: Joel Babdor

Dr. Joel Babdor, a postdoc in the Spitzer Lab presented their work on high-throughput, high-dimensional technologies and computational methods to study the interactions between the human immune system and the microbiome at the systems level. He is also one of the co-founders of @BlackInImmuno on twitter.