Proteins, Protein Design, and Their Impact on Humanity

How progress in our understanding of proteins through the study of DNA and RNA will deeply change our lives

  • Date: 20 SEPTEMBER 2022  from 17:30 to 19:00

  • Event location: In presence and online event

  • Type: Lectures

We live at a transition point in human evolution.  Over the past 25 years, humankind has matured from having tiny tidbits of information on the sequences of DNA that encode our genomes, to knowing nearly complete DNA sequences of the entire genomes of hundreds animals and plants, and thousands of microorganismsThis genome sequence information is having a truly revolutionary impact on society. However, until recently we have had only limited capacity to convert these DNA sequence data into critical knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of the encoded proteins and RNA moleculesThese three-dimensional structures of proteins, together with their structural dynamic motions, underpin their functions in executing the chemistry of biology. Today, however, a second revolution in biology is occurring; the ability of  humans to translate in silico the DNA sequences of genes reliably into the structures of the corresponding proteins and RNA molecules - the molecular machines of life.   Building on the massive international database of DNA sequence data, the moderate-sized database of experimental protein and RNA structures, and advances in deep learning methods of artificial intelligence, humans now have, for the first time, a truly pangenomic-scale picture of protein structure within grasp. Although the grand challenge of establishing a first-principles physics view of protein folding, along with a statistical mechanical description of protein structure conformational landscapes and dynamics, remains to be solved, tremendous advances have been made over the past decade, and particularly in the past few years, not only in predicting protein structures from genomic sequences, but in using these powerful technologies to design and create novel proteins that do not otherwise exist in nature.  In this lecture, we will review these scientific and technological advances, and explore how and why they will impact humanity in profound ways.  


Gaetano T. Montelione

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Visit Prof. Montelione's web page

PhD students and researchers who are interested may request an attendance certificate.