Structural Biology in situ: The Promise and Challenges of Cryo-Electron Tomography
The Jerry A. Weisbach Memorial Lecture
- Friday Lecture Series
Wolfgang Baumeister, Ph.D., director of molecular structural biology, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry
Traditionally, structural biologists have approached cellular complexity in a reductionist manner by characterizing isolated and purified molecular components. This 'divide and conquer' approach has been highly successful. However, awareness has grown in recent years that only rarely can biological functions be attributed to individual macromolecules. Most cellular functions arise from their acting in concert. Hence there is a need for methods developments enabling studies performed in situ, i.e. in unperturbed cellular environments. Sensu stricto the term 'structural biology in situ' should apply only to a scenario in which the cellular environment is preserved in its entirety. Cryo-electron tomography has unique potential to study the supramolecular architecture or 'molecular sociology' of cells. It combines the power of three-dimensional imaging with the best structural preservation that is physically possible to achieve.
Professor Baumeister obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Düsseldorf in 1973. In 1981-82 he spent time at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, England as a Heisenberg Fellow. In 1982 he joined the Max-Planck-Institute of Biochemistry in Martinsried as a group leader (C3). Since 1988 he is a Scientific Member of the MPG and Director of the Department of Structural Biology. He is also an Honorary Professor at the Technical University of Munich in the departments of Physics and Chemistry.
Professor Baumeister’s main interest is the development of new tools and methods for the structural characterization of molecules and cells. He is particularly interested in the development of electron cryotomography for structural studies of molecular and supramolecular structures in situ, i.e. in their cellular environment. A major focus of his work is the molecular machinery of protein degradation, in particular the proteasome.
- Open to
- Gregory Alushin
- Refreshments, 3:15 p.m. - 3:45 p.m., Abby Lounge
- Justin Sloboda
- (212) 327-7785