Molecules and Machines

By Andrew Lieberman | September 23 2015

The 2nd Annual Protein Folding Diseases Initiative Symposium, “Molecules and Machines”, was held on Friday, September 18, 2015, at the A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Science Research Building. 

The University of Michigan Protein Folding Diseases Initiative (PFDI), lead by Drs. Andrew Lieberman and Henry Paulson, seeks to connect the diverse campus-wide expertise on disorders of abnormal protein accumulation and perturbations in “protein quality control.” This Initiative takes advantage of UM’s clinical and basic science strengths in this area, and brings together scientists studying translational models of disease with basic researchers focused on the biological processes of membrane trafficking, endoplasmic reticulum integrity, and the mechanics of protein the quality control machinery. The symposiums sponsored by the PFDI are designed to further collaboration among PFD investigators, attract like-minded researchers and expose potential postdocs and faculty to the strengths of Michigan.

With well over 160 in attendance, this year’s symposium featured posters presented by 58 internal and external graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research investigators.

The keynote speakers included Franz-Ulrich Hartl, Ph.D., Director of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany who spoke on “Mechanisms of Aggregate Toxicity and Their Modulation by Molecular Chaperones” and Judith Frydman, Ph.D., Professor of Biology and Genetics at Stanford University who presented on “Chaperone Mediated Proteostasis in Health and Disease”.  Talks were also given by four of our own faculty – Kristen Verhey, Ph.D., A. Kent Christensen Collegiate Professor from Cell and Developmental Biology who spoke on “The Ciliary Pore Complex: Gateway to the Cilium”, Billy Tsai, Ph.D., Corydon Ford Professor in Cell and Developmental Biology, who presented “How a Non-Enveloped Virus Hijacks Host Disaggregation Machinery to Translocate Across the ER Membrane”, Catherine Collins, Ph.D., Associate Professor in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology who’s talk covered “Shared Pathways for Synaptogenesis and Regeneration of Neuronal Circuits”, and Daniel Southworth, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Biological Chemistry who covered “Architecture and Nucleotide States of the Rvb1/2 Chaperone-Like Machine”.