iBiology Great Questions in Life Sciences
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Great Questions in Life Sciences is a collection of short talks about the great scientific problems that lie at the intersection of physics, computation, and biology. These videos, presented by luminaries from the fields of biophysics and computational biology, will inspire students and young scientists to tackle the next big questions and challenges that will demand their attention over the coming decade. Because they offer a unique glimpse into the forefront of life sciences research, even the most advanced scientist will find them interesting.
|1||VideoChu: Pushing the Boundaries of Light Microscopy||In order to understand how cells function at the molecular level in an organism, we need to observe the location and behavior of single molecules inside living tissue. However, we are not able to do this using conventional optical microscopy and fluorescent probes/markers. Steven Chu discusses recent advances in optics and nanoparticle technology, which hold great promise for observing individual proteins in living cells and tissues in real-time. Speaker Biography: Steven Chu is Professor of Physics and Molecular & Cellular Physiology and the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. From 2009 to 2013, he served as US Secretary of Department of Energy. At the time of his appointment as Energy Secretary, he was a professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and the director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. His research focuses on the study of biological systems at the single molecule level. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for his work at Bell Labs on cooling and trapping of atoms with laser light. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/steven-chu-pushing-the-boundaries-of-light-microscopy.html||7/20/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
|2||VideoTheriot: Discovering Design Principles for Cells and Organisms||From stereocilia in the inner ear to the helical chloroplasts of the green alga Spirogyra, there is immense diversity in cellular structures. What are the underlying physical principles that allow these structures to emerge? Julie Theriot argues that protein folding theories fail to explain how cells build large-scale assemblies, and so scientists are working to develop a new theory of cell structure determination. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/julie-theriot-discovering-design-principles-cells-organisms.html About the Speaker Julie Theriot is Associate Professor of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Theriot’s research focuses on understanding cell organization and motility, as well as host-pathogen interactions in bacterial infections. She combines a number of disciplines, including cell biology, bacterial genetics, mathematical modeling, and video-microscopy in her studies. Theriot was awarded fellowships from both the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Aside from research, Theriot has dedicated her career to educating students in classrooms and through textbooks. She has won numerous teaching awards from her doctoral and medical students. She also co-authored the biophysics textbook Physical Biology of the Cell, along with her colleagues Rob Phillips and Jane Kondev.||2/20/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
|3||VideoHaussler: What Can We Learn From Sequencing Our Genomes?||David Haussler explores the question, “What information is hidden inside your genome?” By comparing the sequenced genomes of different organisms, researchers can identify changes in the genetic code that led to specific evolutionary innovations in the past. The implications for medicine and biology are profound. However, as Haussler mentions, more computational talent is required to analyze such a large number of genomes, especially as more genomes continue to be sequenced at an increasingly rapid pace. About the Speaker David Haussler is Scientific Director of the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Genomics Institute and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Haussler uses mathematics, computer science, and biology to study the genomes of organisms with the goal of understanding disease and evolution. As part of the Human Genome Project, he led the team that published the first publicly available draft of the human genome sequence. He now heads several large-scale projects, including the Genome 10K Project, the UCSC Cancer Genomics Hub (CGHub), and the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/david-haussler-can-learn-sequencing-genomes.html||2/20/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
|4||VideoCohen: Visualizing Activity in the Brain||The pattern of electrical signals propagated through neuronal networks determines brain function. Adam Cohen examines the possibility of visualizing these signals inside an intact brain using fluorescent transmembrane proteins that are sensitive to voltage. Cohen discusses the barriers to this approach, something he predicts scientists from many disciplines will eventually overcome. About the Speaker Adam Cohen is Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Physics at Harvard University and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He develops biological tools and analytical approaches to investigate the behaviors of molecules and cells in vitro and in vivo. His lab merges protein engineering, optics, and physics, among other disciplines, on a variety of projects. For example, they have developed a fluorescent transmembrane protein that detects membrane voltage, which is useful in visualizing electrical activity in cells, such as cultured neurons. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/adam-cohen-visualizing-activity-brain.html||2/20/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
|5||VideoGardel: What is Cytoplasm?||Margaret Gardel explains that the cytoplasm is more than just a simple solution inside the cell. It’s a complex, densely packed fluid with unique physical properties ripe for exploration. She ponders, for example, how motor proteins overcome the physical resistance of carrying cargo, and how cells undergo shape changes in response to different stimuli. To help address these questions, she argues that new theories and approaches are required. About the Speaker Margaret Gardel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics, James Franck Institute, and Institute for Biophysical Dynamics at the University of Chicago. She draws from the fields of condensed matter physics and cell biology to study the mechanics of physical behaviors of cells, including adhesion, shape changes, and force generation. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/margaret-gardel-cytoplasm.html||2/20/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
|6||VideoLippincott-Schwartz: How Do Lipids and Cholesterol Regulate Trafficking Across the Secretory Pathway?||Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz explores the function of lipids in regulating the secretory pathway, the steps by which newly synthesized proteins are processed and shuttled from the endoplasmic reticulum to the Golgi to the plasma membrane. The composition of membrane lipids changes across these three main compartments. How is the lipid gradient generated, and does it play a role in protein trafficking and membrane organization? About the Speaker Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz is Distinguished Investigator and Chief of the Section on Organelle Biology in the Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch at the National Institutes of Health. Lippincott-Schwartz helped pioneer the field of nano-scale resolution microscopy for the visualization of proteins inside living cells. She continues to use live-cell imaging to investigate the dynamics of membrane trafficking, sorting, and compartmentalization in the secretory pathway of eukaryotic cells. In recognition of her scientific contributions, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2008. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/jennifer-lippincott-schwartz-lipids-cholesterol-regulate-trafficking-across-secretory-pathway.html||2/20/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
|7||VideoBialek: Developing Unifying Theories for Biology||As biology becomes increasingly quantifiable, William Bialek posits that scientists can develop unifying theories, in the physics tradition, that predict precisely how living systems work. Unifying theories are more powerful than mathematical models, because they can be applied across diverse biological phenomena, such as transcriptional control of gene expression and neural signaling. However, as Bialek points out, many challenges lie ahead in constructing these comprehensive mathematical descriptions. About the Speaker William Bialek is the John Archibald Wheeler/Battelle Professor in Physics and a member of the Lewis–Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University. A theoretical biophysicist, Bialek has explored research interests that span the dynamics of individual biological molecules to learning and cognition. He is best known for contributing to our understanding of coding and computation in the brain and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2012. Bialek is a highly regarded teacher that has dedicated much of his time to introducing physics students to the field of biophysics. He co-authored the textbook Spikes: Exploring the Neural Code and authored the textbook Biophysics: Searching for Principles. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/william-bialek-developing-unifying-theories-biology.html||3/5/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
|8||VideoPhillips: The Genome as the Modern Rosetta Stone||Despite living in the age of genomics, Rob Phillips argues that we still haven’t completely cracked the genetic code. Excluding genes, there are many important DNA elements, such as regulatory regions, for which we know little about their function. Deciphering all of the functional elements of the genome will help scientists understand how life is engineered, allowing them to make huge leaps in synthetic biology research. About the Speaker Rob Phillips is Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology at the California Institute of Technology. His research focuses on elucidating the physical phenomena of a variety of biological processes/systems, such as mechanosensation and gene regulation. He combines physical modeling with quantitative experimentation in his approaches. Along with Jane Kondev and Julie Theriot, he co-wrote the biophysics textbook, Physical Biology of the Cell, an exploration of how physics and math can be applied to understand biology at molecular and cellular levels. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/rob-phillips-genome-modern-rosetta-stone.html||2/20/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
|9||VideoRosen: Physical Mechanisms of Cell Organization on Micron Length Scales||Michael Rosen argues that we have considerable insight into how cellular structures are formed at the smallest and largest scales (e.g., proteins and organelles, respectively). However, we know little about the organization of intermediate-sized structures, such as lamellipodia, focal adhesions, and budding vesicles, which exist at the micron length scale. He considers the need for new tools, approaches, and ways of thinking to investigate the mechanisms of these structures and understand their functionality. About the Speaker Michael Rosen is Chair of the Department of Biophysics at University of Texas Southwestern and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He studies the assembly and disassembly of actin filaments, a major component of the cytoskeletal network in cells, and focuses on understanding how these filaments organize into higher-order assemblies. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/michael-rosen-physical-mechanisms-cell-organization-micron-length-scales.html||2/20/2015||Free||View in iTunes|
|10||VideoRanganathan: Finding the ‘Effective Variables’ in Biological Systems||Biological systems span an enormous range of scales - from proteins to cells to tissues to ecosystems. Rama Ranganathan asserts that these systems are difficult to understand because their components are heterogeneous, cooperative, and modular. He identifies three major questions facing computational biologists as they try to mathematically model the behavior and evolution of biological system components. About the Speaker Rama Ranganathan is Professor and Director of the Green Center for Systems Biology at University of Texas Southwestern and is affiliated with the Departments of Biophysics and Pharmacology. Ranganathan’s lab uses computational and experimental methods to study the structure, function, and evolution of proteins at the atomic level. At the cellular level, his lab studies signal transduction in photoreceptor cells in the Drosophila eye. In both cases, the goal is to understand the evolutionary design of signaling systems. http://www.ibiology.org/ibiomagazine/rama-ranganathan-finding-effective-variables-biological-systems.html||2/20/2015||Free||View in iTunes|