2016 Naff Symposium


The Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky organizes an annual Symposium on Chemistry and Molecular Biology.  This Symposium was established in honor of Anna S. Naff, a University of Kentucky graduate, through the generous support of Dr. Benton Naff of NIH. The Symposium has an interdisciplinary character and is attended by students and faculty from Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology, Pharmacy, Engineering, Agriculture and Medicine. The Symposium features renowned experts from around the world, including Nobel prize-winning scientists and is attended by faculty and students from colleges and universities in Kentucky and the contiguous States.

The Symposium will be held in the William T. Young Library on the University of Kentucky campus. A poster session will be held in conjunction with the Symposium.

Friday, April 29, 2016 - 8:00am to 4:00pm
W.T. Young Library

Naff Symposium 2014: Todd Yeates, "Giant Protein Cages and Assemblies in Nature and by Design"

40th Annual Naff Symposium University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Todd Yeates, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA

Abstract: Nature has evolved myriad sophisticated structures based on the assembly of protein subunits. Many types of natural protein assemblies (such as virus capsids) have been studied extensively, while a number of equally sophisticated natural protein assemblies are only beginning to be appreciated. Among the latter group is a broad class of giant, capsid-like assemblies referred to as bacterial microcompartments. They serve as primitive metabolic organelles in many bacteria by encapsulating sequentially acting enzymes within a selectively permeable protein shell. Our laboratory has elucidated key mechanisms of these protein-based bacterial organelles through structural studies. On the engineering side, sophisticated natural protein assemblies like these have for many years represented an ultimate goal in protein design. By exploiting principles of symmetry that are shared by nearly all natural self-assembling structures, we have developed methods for engineering novel proteins that assemble to form a variety of complex, symmetric architectures. Recent successful designs include hollow protein cages composed of 12 or 24 identical subunits in cubic arrangements. Symmetric materials that extend by growth in two or three dimensions are also possible. Natural and engineered protein assemblies will be discussed, along with their future prospects for synthetic biology and biomedical applications.

Naff Symposium 2014: Donald E. Ingber, "From Cellular Mechanotransduction to Biologically Inspired Engineering"



40th Annual Naff Symposium University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences

Dr. Donald E. Ingber Director, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

Abstract: The newly emerging field of Biologically Inspired Engineering centers on understanding the fundamental principles that Nature uses to build and control living systems, and on applying this knowledge to engineer biologically inspired materials and devices for medicine, industry and the environment. A central challenge in this field is to understand of how living cells and tissues are constructed so that they exhibit their incredible organic properties, including their ability to change shape, move, grow, and self-heal. These are properties we strive to mimic, but we cannot yet build manmade devices that exhibit or selectively control these behaviors. To accomplish this, we must uncover the underlying design principles that govern how cells and tissues form and function as hierarchical assemblies of nanometer scale components. In this lecture, I will review work that has begun to reveal these design principles that guide self-assembly of living 3D structures with great robustness, mechanical strength and biochemical efficiency, even though they are composed of many thousands of flexible molecular scale components. Key to this process is that the molecular frameworks of our cells, tissues and organs are stabilized using a tension-dependent architectural system, known as ‘tensegrity’, and these tensed molecular scaffolds combine mechanical load-bearing functions with solid-phase biochemical processing activities. I will describe how this structural perspective has led to new insights into the molecular basis of cellular mechanotransduction – the process by which living cells sense mechanical forces and convert them into changes in intracellular biochemistry, gene expression and thereby influence cell fate decisions during tissue and organ development. In addition, I will present how these scientific advances have been facilitated by development of new micro- and nano-technologies, including engineering of novel human organ-on-a-chip microdevices that also have great potential value as replacements for animal testing in drug development and discovery research. Understanding of these design principles that govern biological organization, and how scientific discovery and technology development can be facilitated by equally melding fundamental science and applied engineering, are critical for anyone who wants to fully harness the power of biology.



Naff Symposium Brings Renowned Chemistry Experts to UK

The University of Kentucky's annual Naff Symposium will host three leading chemistry experts on Friday, April 25, at UK's William T. Young Library auditorium.
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