Biophysical Society Bulletin | May 2024

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May 2024


Biophysics Week, established in 2016, is an annual global initiative aimed at raising awareness about the field of biophysics. Every March, the Biophysical Society brings together members, researchers, and organizations worldwide to celebrate biophysics. The objective is to educate and cultivate public interest and backing for biophysics research on a global scale. It underscores the signifi cance of interdisciplinary collaboration in science, particularly in biophysics, emphasizing the value of cross-border cooperation among researchers to further scientific progress. The ninth annual Biophysics Week, held from March 18–22, was a celebration of scientific discovery and collaboration. Organized by BPS, BPS Subgroups, Student Chapters, and Affiliate Event Organizers, this exciting week brought together members from 17 coun tries for a dynamic mix of in-person and virtual events. These events ranged from casual trivia and chats to engaging cooking, art and science experiments, lab tours, seminars, and webinars, offering communities worldwide a chance to delve into the impact of biophys ics on scientific research. We want to thank our Affiliate Event Organizers as well as members and communities around the globe for your support and active participation. This week would not be possible without you! Throughout the event, BPS provided valuable resources such as webinars, career videos, lay summaries, profiles, lesson plans and experiments, and more, all of which remain accessible at biophysics-week. Thank You Biophysics Week Partners!

We would like to acknowledge our global partners for their support in promoting Biophysics Week outreach. We are grateful for their contributions in ensuring the success of this event by spreading awareness and participation globally. By working together, we strengthen the significance of biophysics in scientific research.


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President's Message Biophysicist in Profile

Member Corner Biophysics Week

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Public Affairs Publications


Important Dates

President's Message

Behind the Scenes: Organizing the BPS Annual Meeting

How the BPS Annual Meeting comes together continues to be a mystery for seasoned and new members alike. Questions always arise on how the abstract catego ries are selected, how platforms and symposia are assembled, or how emerging areas of research are incorporated into the program.

agreed to take on this daunting task. They have been working tirelessly since last October! Symposia. The main task of the Program Committee is to select topics and confirm four speakers for each of the Annual Meeting symposia. Their work begins 18 months in advance of the Annual Meeting and follows a relatively structured process. The first order of business is to review the symposium propos als received from BPS members in response to a call that goes out annually around mid-July. For the 2026 meeting, it will be sent July 19. Mark your calendar for this key date! The selec tion process aims to identify meritorious proposals that cover exciting and diverse areas of investigation that have not been covered in recent meetings. The Committee also reviews prior meeting statistics such as the number of abstracts submitted within each category, session attendance data, and feedback from surveys to ensure that the selected topics accurately re flect member interest. Therefore, by selecting a category under which to submit your abstract this year, you will influence the scientific content of future meetings. In a previous blog, past President David Piston advised on how to choose a category and whether to opt for a platform/poster or poster-only opportunity: abstract-category-for-the-annual-meeting. The outcome of this initial step is to develop a draft program that includes titles and potential speakers for the 20 regular symposia. This draft is shared with Council for review and is discussed at the Annual Meeting at Saturday Council. I remem ber that during my 2015–2018 term as councilor, the review of this initial draft was quite granular, and on occasion pointed! Nowadays, the process is much smoother and more collabora tive, with the clear goal of selecting exciting topics and speak ers that represent the entire breadth of our membership. Another step is for the program chairs to engage with Sub group chairs at the Annual Meeting. This collaboration has helped to better integrate regular symposia with Subgroup- organized sessions and has provided a deeper pool of speakers and more targeted topics. Based on input from Council and Subgroup chairs, the program chairs revise the initial draft and present the updated version to Wednesday New Council for approval. Know that program chairs and members of Council always want to hear from you with feedback on past sessions and with suggestions for the future. Stop them in the hallway or send them a brief message! They will appreciate your input. At this point, one year in advance of the meeting, invitations go out to approved speakers to confirm four speakers for each symposium. A fifth speaker will be chosen as a Symp Select speaker in the fall from the submitted abstracts. If you are a

Gabriela K. Popescu

No amount of communication can fully describe the process because it has myriad moving parts and because it is constant ly evolving. In this column, I aim to answer some of the most frequently asked questions, while I am anticipating with excite ment our 69th Annual Meeting, scheduled for February 15–19, 2025, in Los Angeles. The responsibility for the scientific content of the Annual Meeting rests exclusively with the President, the Council, and the Program Committee. An essential goal is to balance com munity needs with the physical limitations of space and time! Our most recent Annual Meeting, which was held last Febru ary in Philadelphia, featured 24 symposia, 4 workshops, 64 platforms, and more than 3,070 posters. In addition to these much-anticipated scientific sessions, the Annual Meeting has evolved to include career development sessions, committee meetings, panel discussions, and social events, each with im portant mission-relevant goals. It is always a challenge to fit all this abundant programming into six short days, and sometimes the venue may impose additional limitations. Dorothy Chaconas , our seasoned Director of Meetings and Exhibits, and her team provide an initial scheduling template. This matrix sets upper limits for the number of symposia and workshops we can plan and has remained relatively constant over the past several years. Within this framework, we endeavor to select the most exciting, engaging, and representative topics and speakers! As the president of BPS, it is my privilege to shape the 2025 Annual Meeting by nominating the BPS Lecturer, the topic for the Presidential Symposium, and the chairs of the Program Committee. I am thrilled to share with you that Eric Gouaux , Vollum Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, has agreed to give the 2025 BPS Lecture. He will demonstrate the power of rigorous biophysical research in revealing the funda mental mechanisms of neurotransmission, and thus helping to alleviate the global burden of neuropsychiatric disorders. Sim ilarly, to draw attention to the critical role biophysics research can play in solving global threats, I selected for the Presidential Symposium the topic of “A Sustainable Future.” Finally, I invited a dynamic duo, Sudha Chakrapani , Case Western Reserve Uni versity, and Christopher Yip , University of Toronto, to co-chair the Program Committee. I could not be more grateful that they

May 2024



President's Message

Officers President Gabriela K. Popescu President-Elect Lynmarie K. Thompson Past-President Taekjip Ha Secretary Teresa Giraldez Treasurer Samantha Harris Council Patricia Bassereau Margaret Cheung Martin Gruebele Taviare Hawkins Anne Kenworthy Syma Khalid Emmanuel Margeat Anita Niedziela-Majka Elizabeth Rhoades Tamar Schlick Valeria Vasquez Jing Xu Biophysical Journal Vasanthi Jayaraman Editor-in-Chief The Biophysicist Padmini Rangamani Editor-in-Chief Biophysical Reports

Recently, Past President Taekjip Ha described this process and explained new features we introduced in Philadelphia, including Symp Se lect speakers, five-minute flash talks, and the option for platform speakers to also present a poster: gets-to-present-at-the-bps-annual-meeting. Categories. Note that every three years, Council reviews and updates the abstract categories to ensure that the Annual Meeting reflects both ongoing trends and emerging areas of research. If a category receives consistently numerous abstracts, it may be divided into more specific areas to form a new category. Conversely, when a category receives consistently limited numbers of abstracts, it may be merged with an adjacent area. It is always the case that any one abstract fits into several categories. Make sure to review all categories to select the most appropriate for your interest. And contact us with suggestions to improve the fit. Speakers. Lastly, a frequent question refers to how speakers are selected. Attendees who pre sented orally in any session of the previous two meetings—whether in a meeting symposium, a Subgroup symposium, or a workshop—are excluded from the list of potential speakers for two years. Platform speakers are excluded from the list for one year. This excluded-speaker rule has been in effect for more than a doz en years and it has been a clear and effective means to increase the diversity of our topics and speakers, to hear from as many members as possible, and to ensure that all meritorious science has access to the microphone. Howev er, cancellations—which lately have increased in frequency—force program chairs to make last-minute substitutions for speakers. I can only imagine the stress that program chairs experience while filling vacant slots at the last minute! Next time you notice a repeat speaker, know they have generously agreed to fill in due to an unexpected cancellation! I hope this information will help you to better plan for the next meeting. Keep an eye out for calls for proposals, and on the deadline for abstract submission. Please continue to reach out with questions and suggestions. It is your engagement that makes BPS a community. — Gabriela K. Popescu , President

Regular or an Early Career Member, you can select the Symp Select option during abstract submission to be considered automatically for the fifth slot of a symposium. Even if program chairs do not select your abstract for a sym posium slot, Council members will consider all remaining applications for an oral presenta tion when assembling platform sessions (see below). Workshops. Each year, the Annual Meeting accommodates four to five workshops. Pro gram chairs consider topics and speakers from member-submitted proposals as they do for regular symposia. In addition to the 20 symposia and 5 work shops, there are 5 named symposia, which have specific programmatic purposes. These are: Best of Biophysical Journal , Future of Biophys ics, New and Notable, President’s Symposium, and, new in 2025 as a now recurring special symposium, Black in Biophysics. Speakers for these symposia are selected by the chairs from membership-wide calls for nominations that go out during the summer before the meeting or by consultation with appropriate communities. Lastly, there are 18 Subgroup-organized symposia, scheduled by rotation on Saturday morning or afternoon of the Annual Meeting. For these, the topics and speakers are selected by Subgroup chairs. Platforms. In contrast with symposia, where topics and speakers are selected by program chairs and must be approved by Council, plat form sessions represent the collaborative effort of members of Council and the Program Committee. The meeting can generally ac commodate about 64 platform sessions, and these will reflect proportionally the number of submissions in each abstract category. To form a two-hour platform session in any one cate gory, the total number of submissions for oral/ poster plus half the number of submissions for poster-only must be greater to or equal to 30. If this number is greater than 60, the category will include two platform sessions. Next, the program chairs and some members of Council and the Program Committee, along with members with areas of expertise not already represented, review the abstracts for which authors have selected the oral/poster option and choose seven speakers, two of whom will also chair, per platform session.

Jörg Enderlein Editor-in-Chief

Society Office Jennifer Pesanelli Executive Officer Newsletter

Executive Editor Jennifer Pesanelli Managing Editor John Long Production Ray Wolfe Meredith Zimmerman Proofreader/Copy Editor The Biophysical Society Newsletter (ISSN 0006-3495) is published eleven times per year, January-December, by the Biophysical Society, 5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110, Rockville, Maryland 20852. Distributed to USA members and other countries at no cost. Cana dian GST No. 898477062. Postmaster: Send address changes to Biophysical Society, 5515 Security Lane, Suite 1110, Rockville, MD 20852. Copyright © 2024 by the Biophysical Society. Darren Early Laura Phelan

Printed in the United States of America. All rights reserved.

May 2024



Biophysicist in Profile

Kresten Lindorff-Larsen Area of Research Computational protein biophysics

Institution University of Copenhagen


Kresten Lindorff-Larsen , Professor at the Linderstrøm-Lang Centre for Protein Science in the De partment of Biology, University of Copenhagen, studied biochemistry, leading him to the world of protein science and biophysics. After completing his PhD at the University of Cambridge, and a short postdoc, he took a faculty position at the University of Copenhagen. His lab combines molecular simulations with experiments to study the structure, function, and dynamics of proteins and works to understand the impact of missense variants on protein stability and function.

Kresten Lindorff-Larsen

Kresten Lindorff-Larsen was born in Denmark to a mother who was a surgeon and a father who worked as a dancer, actor, and director. His maternal grandmother was a successful actress and singer who also earned a university degree at age 60, and his maternal grandfather was a musician and composer. “All of them had broad interests, and I think I have inherited this,” he shares. “And while I do not have any of the musical creativity of the rest of the family, I think that I have been able to use creativity in the way we do science.” Having a fascination with the world around him, he was nat urally drawn to science and math. In high school he focused on biology, chemistry, and math. “While I seriously considered studying medicine, I ended up studying biochemistry at the University of Copenhagen, and this led me to the field of pro tein science and biophysics. I was already interested in more chemical and quantitative aspects of biochemistry back then, and so supplemented with additional coursework in math and physical chemistry,” he recalls. “I performed research for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the historical Carlsberg Laboratory. The Carlsberg Laboratory is located next to the Carlsberg brewery and is a research institute that historically has been very focused on basic science. A lot of important protein science and chemistry has been done there over the years, and it had a wonderful atmosphere. I remember enjoy ing going to the library to find all the issues of a wide range of journals back to their beginnings.” After obtaining his master’s degree, he completed his alter native civilian service and then worked for a biotech com pany before pursuing a PhD in the lab of Chris Dobson at the University of Cambridge. “I was trained as an experimental biochemist and went to work for Chris with the intention to do experimental biophysics. I was fascinated by biophysics in general and the process of protein folding in particular. Cam bridge was a hotspot for such research with people such as Chris, Alan Fersht , Jane Clarke , Michele Vendruscolo , Carol Rob inson , and many others, and of course a lot of amazing young people in all these groups. Chris had just moved from Oxford

to Cambridge, and the wet lab was pretty much non-existent when I arrived,” he explains. “Before going to Cambridge, I had done a bit of programming and quantitative analyses, and so ended up talking to Chris and Michele about some ideas I had. And very much by chance I therefore ended up switching from wet lab experiments to computational experiments. Both in Cambridge and later I have, however, tried to combine my interest in experimental protein science with computational methods.” After completing his PhD, he moved quickly to a faculty posi- tion. “I was fortunate to be offered an assistant professor position at the University of Copenhagen almost straight out of my PhD, so I only did about six months of postdoc in the lab of Flemming Poulsen before starting my own research group,” Lindorff-Larsen says. After two years as an assistant professor, Lindorff-Larsen left Copenhagen to join D. E. Shaw Research in New York. There he joined a diverse group of people working on developing software, hardware, and algorithms for molecular dynamics simulations and applying these to problems in biology and biophysics. “This was an exciting time as we were beginning to use a specialized computer—called Anton—to perform long molecular dynamics simulations of protein dynamics and folding,” he recounts. “Together with my colleagues, I was able to use my background in, for example, NMR [nuclear magnetic resonance] spectroscopy to improve force fields, and then apply these to study the process of protein folding.” After four years in New York, Lindorff-Larsen moved back to Copenhagen where he is currently a professor at the Linder strøm-Lang Centre for Protein Science in the Department of Biology at the University of Copenhagen. “Our center is named after the Danish protein chemist Kaj Linderstrøm-Lang , who was head of the Carlsberg Laboratory and who is famous for, among other things, naming primary, secondary, and ter tiary structures in proteins and inventing hydrogen exchange to study protein structure and dynamics,” he reports. “The

May 2024



Biophysicist in Profile

Linderstrøm-Lang Centre brings together protein scientists with a broad set of interests and skills and is highly collabo rative.” “Our current research falls into two broad themes. In one area, we combine molecular simulations with experiments to study the structure, function, and dynamics of proteins. Many of these projects are collaborative, and I enjoy working closely with experimental groups and developing the techniques needed to integrate experiments and simulations as closely as possible. In this research we work on many different types of systems, including folded, globular proteins, membrane proteins, and highly disordered proteins. Another major theme in the group is to predict and understand the impact of missense variants on protein stability and function,” he con veys. “Here, the goal is to figure out which missense variants cause disease, and what the molecular mechanisms might be. This work is also collaborative, and we work closely with people who perform cell-based and biochemical assays.” Lindorff-Larsen finds the collaborative nature of science to be one of the most rewarding parts of research. “While the work I am doing is continuously changing, I have always enjoyed trying to bring together different expertise and methods to tackle new types of problems,” he shares. “Over the years we have worked together with many experimental groups combining our methods and ideas to move the field forward. I also very much enjoy learning from and being inspired by the people in the group. A nice thing about biophysics is that many of the problems really require the use of many different methods, so it is often highly collaborative by nature.”

While biophysics is a broad, diverse field moving forward in many directions, in his areas of focus Lindorff-Larsen has been trying to push research forward in two main directions. “First, we are increasingly focusing on the dynamics of com plex biomolecular systems and how these dynamics relate to function. Second, we are pushing to move computational biophysics to the proteome scale,” he declares. “One recent example is that we have calculated the effects of all possi ble missense variants on the stability of all human proteins, substituting each amino acid for all 19 other possibilities at each residue. Another example is our recent work in which we performed molecular simulations of all 28,000 disordered regions from the human proteome.” One piece of advice he shares for early career biophysicists is not to listen to too much advice. “Or rather, to realize that we each do what we do in different ways, and our paths are varied. That said, there are a few things that are important for me. First, I think research should be fun and creative. Second, I enjoy collaborative science and we will often select projects that enable us to learn new things by working with others. Third, I have personally benefitted a lot from having a good overview of the literature. In a time where many things move very rapidly, I think one can often learn a lot by remembering that biophysics is not a new field, and that we can build on the research, ideas, and results from many others over the years. So, instead of just reading the same papers as everyone else, I recommend also to read outside the most recent big publica tions,” he advises. On a broader scale, “My main advice would be to find something you enjoy doing, and see whether you can find a way of getting to work on those things.”

Biophysical Society Thematic Meeting

Submit an Abstract and Share Your Research Abstract Submission Deadline: June 3, 2024 Early Registration Deadline: June 24, 2024

Emerging Theoretical Approaches to Compliment Single-Particle Cryo-Electron Microscopy Trieste, Italy | October 21–25, 2024

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May 2024



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NSF Study Shows Sharp Decline in Postdocs At the end of March, the NSF released new survey data indicating a sharp drop in the number of postdocs, particularly those in the biological and biomedical sciences. The survey data underscore concerns within the academic community about a postdoc shortage and that early-career scientists are increasingly seeking positions outside academia. According to the latest data release, 62,750 postdocs were employed at US institutions in the fall of 2022, a 1% drop compared with the previous year. However, the trend diverges sharply by citizenship. From 2021 to 2022, the number of US citizens and permanent residents working as postdocs dropped from 29,755 to 27,289. The 8% change is the largest year-to-year percent age-wise drop in the history of the survey, which has collected data since 1980. Meanwhile, the number of postdocs with tem porary visas increased by 6%, from 33,573 to 35,461, about the same number as in 2020. The declines coincide with a boom in hiring at biotech companies. In addition, data from a separate survey released by the NSF last year indicated that fewer US PhD graduates in the life sciences are pursuing postdocs than ever before, with an increasing number heading to industry.

Congress Strikes Deal for Fiscal Year 2024, Kicks Off Fiscal Year 2025 Discussions As it turns out, March was filled not only with basketball but budgetary madness. We now know the outcome of the fiscal year 2024 (FY24) budget and where the starting point for FY25 is with the release of the White House budget. Let’s start with the outcome for FY24. The best news is that we are finished with the continuing resolutions; secondary to that is that the numbers, although not what we hoped for, are not as devastating to research as they could have been. The first of the two minibus packages passed on March 9 covered funding for 6 of the 12 overall appropriations bills, including funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. DOE’s Office of Science was one of the few research pro grams to fare better than in the previous year, getting a 1.7% ($140 million) increase to $8.2 billion. However, that boost will not keep pace with the cost of inflation. NSF fared con siderably worse, with an 8.3% cut to $9.1 billion, some $820 million below its funding for 2023. Last year, NSF’s budget received an additional boost through emergency spending to

fund the new Technology, Innovation and Partnerships direc torate; however, those funds were not replenished for FY24. The second minibus, passed on March 23, included funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The funding es sentially leaves the agency “flat” for this year at $41.7 billion, down 1% from the $47.5 billion allotted to the agency in 2023. It should be noted that the final funding numbers for FY23 included additional funds appropriated through the 21st Cen tury Cures Act, so while the FY24 budget is $300 million over the base funding for FY23, it still represents a reduction from the total overall amount that NIH received in 2023. Looking forward to FY25, the White House released its re quest to Congress on March 11. Although this is a leaping-off point for the agencies and Appropriations Committees to work from, the request for FY25 is considerably more modest than anything that we have seen from this administration previously. President Joe Biden ’s request includes a 6.41% increase for the NIH, to raise the budget from $47.1 billion to $50.1 billion. This modest increase would still leave each institute with negligible increases overall. The NSF fares a bit better, with a request of $10.2 billion, a 13% increase over FY24. Although the research areas within the NSF will see modest adjustments, the President put the

May 2024



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bulk of his request for funding into geosciences research (+56%) focusing on climate change. The DOE Office of Science received a proposed increase of 4%, for an overall budget of $8.6 billion. You can see a detailed chart on FY24 and pro posed FY25 spending on the BPS website at www.biophysics. org/policy-advocacy/stay-informed/u-s-federal-budget. Call for BPS Ambassador Applications Are you an advocate for biophysics education and knowledge sharing? Have you considered applying for the BPS Am bassador Program to put those skills into action? The BPS Ambassador Program was developed to help make biophysics a more dynamic, inclusive, and interdisciplinary community to better serve the needs of our international membership. Cur rently, BPS works with 12 Ambassadors: 4-member cohorts serving 3-year terms. For the next class of Ambassadors (2025–2027), we are ac cepting applications from all international members residing in countries outside of India, Japan, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Türkiye, United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. An ideal country Ambassador is actively engaged in biophysics research and committed to remaining in the field for the duration of the Ambassadorship, is an active paid member of the Society in good standing, is able to attend the Annual Meeting at the start of their term, has working proficiency in English, and

has a demonstrated ability to contribute to organizations or scientific societies outside of their normal job duties. Applications are due July 19. To learn more about the pro gram, Ambassador eligibility, and benefits, please visit www. Around the World South Korea Set to Join Horizon Europe On March 25, South Korea was announced as the second country outside of Europe to join Horizon Europe, the 7-year, €95.5-billion ($104-billion) research-funding program. South Korea will be the first East Asian country to “associate to” Horizon Europe, paying into the program so that the nation’s researchers can apply for and lead Horizon grants on an equal footing with scientists from European Union (EU) member states. The deal will be formalized with a signing later this year. The deal comes less than a year after New Zealand became the first country from outside of the European region to join Horizon Europe, as the EU seeks to internationalize the program. In addition to New Zealand and South Korea, Canada has concluded negotiations and will be signing an associating agreement later this year. Singapore and Japan are in prelimi nary discussions with the European Commission.

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May 2024




Know the Editor Valeria Vásquez

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Biophysical Reports Extracellular domain 2 of TSPAN4 governs its functions Raviv Dharan, Alisa Vaknin, Raya Sorkin “Tetraspanins are widespread in nearly every cell, showcas ing diverse functions linked to crucial cellular and patholog ical processes like cell adhesion, immune signaling, cell-cell fusion, viral infection, and cancer metastasis. This under scores their significance in cellular mechanisms and suggests potential therapeutic applications. Their various cellular roles are closely tied to their ability to form higher-order structures. The assembly of tetraspanins is likely dependent on their membrane concentration, which increases in curved mem branes for some tetraspanins due to their membrane curva ture sensitivity. Elucidating the molecular domains governing their curvature sensitivity and interactions is essential for understanding tetraspanin dynamics in the membrane. Here, the authors demonstrate that the extracellular 2 loop of tet raspanin 4 is crucial for both curvature sensitivity and domain formation, suggesting a way to regulate tetraspanin function.” Version of Record Published March 4, 2024 DOI: https:/ H 0.05 0.10 2 3 4 5 TSPAN4 Sorting Tension (mN/m) 0.05 0.10 0.15 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2.0 ∆ EC1 ∆ EC2 Sorting Biophysical Journal Reintroduces Letters Biophysical Journal is once again accepting submissions of Letters! These are short articles (no more than five pages) on diverse areas that report exceptionally important results in an accelerated manner. A Letter should be of interest to a wide variety of readers and should potentially change the way the reader thinks about an important topic or address a critical ques tion; it should tell a complete story without needing extensive data analysis, and it is not meant to serve as a means of publishing preliminary results. The criteria for acceptance of a letter are more stringent than for regular articles, and particular attention will be paid to the significance of the results. To submit a Letter or any other paper for consideration in the Journal, please go to for more information. Tension (mN/m)

What has been your most exciting discovery as a biophysicist? TSPAN4




My most exciting discovery lies in demonstrating that dietary fatty acids, when enriched in the plasma membrane, modu late PIEZO2 function, impacting mechano-activated excitatory currents in sensory neurons. My group has shown its trans lational potential in counteracting mechanical sensitization by elucidating the mechanisms by which margaric acid (a saturated fatty acid) decreases PIEZO2 mechano-currents, even in the presence of pro-algesic inflammatory mediators like bradykinin. Our research highlights the therapeutic po tential of enhancing PIEZO2 function with a diet enriched in linoleic acid (a polyunsaturated fatty acid) in conditions such as Angelman syndrome, in which PIEZO2 dysfunction contributes to symptoms like impaired walking. Furthermore, our findings regarding the effects of linoleic acid-enriched diets on PIEZO2 function provide promising avenues for addressing neuroge netic disorders. Our biophysical work underscores the critical role of dietary fatty acids in modulating PIEZO2 in vivo during inflammatory conditions and neurological disorders, offering potential therapeutic interventions. At a cocktail party of non-scientists, how would you explain what you do? In my lab, we study how our body senses touch, pain, balance, and other sensations. We are particularly interested in special channels in our cells that help us feel these sensations. These channels are like tiny gatekeepers, letting signals in and out of our cells. We are trying to understand how they work and how they are affected by certain natural substances called fatty acids (like fish oil). By understanding these channels better, we hope to learn more about how our body senses and responds to its environment. G 0.8 1.0 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 Sorting 2 3 4 Sorting ∆ EC1 ∆ EC2

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May 2024



Member Corner

Members in the News

James H. Hurley, University of California, Berkeley and Society member since 2000, received a 2023 Humboldt Research Award.

Laina Hall , University of California, Berkeley and Society member since 2023, was on a team that received a 2023 NIH Director’s Award.

James H. Hurley

Laina Hall

Grants & Opportunities

Sony Women in Technology Award with Nature This award recognizes and celebrates the remarkable women spearheading advancements in technology, driving positive change for society and the planet. This includes women creating physical or digital tools and solutions, and/or using mathematical and physical sci ence to achieve practical goals. Three women will receive awards of $250,000 each. Who can apply: To apply, one must self-identify as a woman, work in technology/science, and be in the early to mid-career phase (received their undergraduate de gree within the last 25 years). Deadline: May 31, 2024 Website: https:/

Michelson Prizes: Next Generation Grants These awards support early career investigators working to advance human immunology, vaccine discovery, and immunotherapy research for major global diseases. Who can apply: Applicants must be 35 or younger at the time of submission. Early career independent investi gators, postdoctoral fellows, clinical fellows, and other researchers currently in training positions are eligible for these awards. Deadline: June 9, 2024 Website: research-grants/

Student Spotlight Mariya Savinov

Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences New York University What do you think makes the study of biophysics unique?

I have found that many of science’s most interesting questions require answers attainable only through collaboration of scientists from diverse academic/research backgrounds. Since the study of biophysics results in inherently interdisciplinary questions, it uniquely encourages the integration of knowledge and expertise from different fields, resulting in a thrilling research experience where you are always finding new perspectives and inspiration.

Mariya Savinov

May 2024



Biophysics Week

Early Career Investigators Meet Marta Filizola from Mount Sinai

Biophysics Week in Lithuania The Lithuanian Biophysical Society held a wide range of educational events at the Life Sciences Center and Faculty of Physics of Vilnius University, as well as at the National Cancer Institute. They organized hands-on laboratory exercises, lab oratory tours, and public lectures, aiming to promote various branches of biophysics among high school and university students, as well as already existing community members. They covered a diverse range of questions a biophysicist might encounter and offered different perspectives on how to answer them by using various model systems and methodol ogies. More than 140 participants took part in the discussions and activities.

The GPCR Forum Early Career Investigator (ECI) Zoominar se ries hosted Marta Filizola , a computational biophysicist at the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, for a career discussion session. The session provided an overview of Filizola’s career path. ECIs asked about topics for junior scientists where decision-making is difficult but has a significant impact on their future. Filizola emphasized the importance of attending international scientific meetings to network. She shared her experience about starting a lab and having an (academic) ca reer while starting a family. Visit gpcr-zoominars to learn more.

Art&Science Day: Science Meets Art During International Biophysics Week 2024, the first Art&- Science Day took place at the Institute of Molecular Biosci ences at University of Graz. During this event, participants of all ages were invited to unfold their creativity at five hands on stations, where they could experience research from a special perspective and get in touch with the researchers of the institute. The day was rounded out by two lectures on science design: one by Verena Resch titled "Make Science Beautiful" and the other by the event’s organizer, Ariane Pes sentheiner , on how to use comics to present complex content in a simple way (for more on the project “BioPhyCom – Dive into Biomembranes with Comics,“ go to https:/biophycom.

Biophysical Society of Canada (BSC) Gastronomy Cooking Class On March 21, to celebrate Biophysics Week, the Trainee Ex ecutive of the Biophysical Society of Canada (BSC) held their first Gastronomy Cooking Class. This interactive and informa tive class was hosted by Sara Evans , a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Dalhousie University. Students, postdocs, and professors from across Canada came together virtually to learn the science behind jellies while following

along with Sara in the kitch en. Attendees learned about the structure and function of pectin (a polysaccharide) and gelatin (a protein) while preparing their own jellies and interacting with Sara throughout the class. More than 80 children and adults clearly had fun at this successful event and, in addition to great works of art, they certainly took home some scientific insights.

May 2024



Biophysics Week

Biophyzza Connection: Reach Your Full (Action) Potential As part of the broader Biophysical Society of Spain (SBE) initiative, supported by Domino’s Pizza Spain, the events in Tenerife were part of the "Biophyzza Party 2024" series held across the country (https:/ These activ ities, co-sponsored by the Institute of Biomedical Technol ogies (ITB), involved engaging first-year students from the University of La Laguna Medical School enrolled in its Human Physiology I course. There was a pizza gathering in the ITB lobby followed by tours of labs and core facilities for four groups of students. Additionally, two groups delved into the biophysical basis of neuronal excitability, exploring action potential simulations using the simulator “Nerve” developed by Francisco Bezanilla from the University of Chicago (https:/

Biophyzza Valencia The event held at the University of Valencia proved to be a resounding success with more than 150 enthusiastic partic ipants in attendance. Following introductions by the orga nizers, Jesus Perez-Gil (BPS Ambassador in Spain) delivered a highly motivating lecture. The conference's motivational im pact was evidenced by the large number of questions posed by students from different academic backgrounds expressing interest in how to navigate their future careers in the field of biophysics. Moreover, the event underscored the importance of delineating educational pathways to facilitate students' initiation into the field of biophysics. Wrapping up with a cele bratory atmosphere, attendees engaged in lively discussions in small groups, savoring refreshments and pizzas.

Biophysics Week Seminar at Augsburg University For Biophysics Week, Augsburg University undergraduates hosted a Zoom seminar by Anna Gaffney , a University of Chicago graduate student, on phase transitions and the mechanical properties of lipid monolayers and model lung surfactants. It was titled “Relaxing under stress: Develop ing a generalized material model for highly compressed lip id monolayers.” Students also learned a little about Anna's path to graduate school and the role of an undergraduate course in sparking an interest in biophysics. A playful twist on a typical research seminar required the students to take notes in cartoon form.

May 2024



Biophysics Week

Bacterial Growth Networks: Hands-On Workshop The Bacterial Growth Network (BacGroNet) hands-on work shop was conducted on March 22 at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune. It was aimed at a diverse audience with registered participants including undergraduates from IISER Pune, PhD students, and profes sionals from Bioinformatics and Biological DataMining com panies. The proceedings were kicked off by a motivation to the theme: of bacteria, their use not just to study pathogen esis but also to examine fundamental molecular, genetic, and evolutionary aspects of biology. The research seminars were diverse with Sonika Bhatnagar from Netaji Subhas University of Technology, Victor Sourjik from Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology, and Nitin Baliga from the Institute for Systems Biology speaking remotely. There were also intense hands-on sessions where individuals learned to understand and appreciate the power of scripting in Matlab to quantify bacterial cell dynamics. In summary, this workshop provided a primer to some approaches (computational and experi mental) to understanding of bacterial growth networks. The workshop was supported by a grant from the Department of Biotechnology of India.

"Super-resolution Fluorescence Imaging of Extracellular Environ ments." Attendees participated in speed-dating style network ing sessions, exploring research challenges and innovative inter disciplinary solutions. The event continued with a 3-Minute- Thesis–inspired flash talk session, featuring 12 presentations show casing diverse research areas from chemical engineering to neurosciences. Walter Boron ,

a Distinguished University Professor and Chair of Physi ology and Biophysics, provided closing remarks and distributed prizes and certificates to flash talk winners. Workshop in the MIDST of Mapping the Protein Landscape with Metadynamics When Canan Atilgan , BPS member since 2001, first got the Biophysics Week affiliate events invitation back in 2018, her group MIDST at Sabanci University, Türkiye decided to set in motion an idea they had been cooking for some time: a single-day event where a selected topic in computational bi ology would be conveyed to a group of 30 to 40 postgraduate students where the theory would be discussed in the morn ing and a hands-on session in the afternoon would cement the topic with real applications. The goal was to have each attendee leave the event with a solid idea of how they would apply the topic to their own research problems. Istanbul being a hub for computational biologists of all backgrounds, they have been focusing on a different topic in every one of these “Dialogues in the MIDST.” This year’s Dialogue was on explor ing protein landscapes with a focus on metadynamics. Not only did the 30+ attendees from all over Türkiye get a unique training opportunity, but they also enjoyed ample time for networking with their peers and shared research questions.

CWRU Biophysics Day 2024 In the dynamic field of biophysics, collaboration among experts from various fields is essential for solving complex biological problems. That was the focus of Case Western Reserve University’s (CWRU’s) inaugural Biophysics Day 2024, hosted by the CWRU Postdoc Association’s Profes sional Development Committee: to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and celebrate biophysics. The half-day event proved a great success, drawing more than 70 biophysics enthusiasts from diverse academic backgrounds, spanning undergraduates, graduates, postdocs, and faculty members across scientific disciplines. Keynote speaker Lydia Kisley , Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Chem istry, shared her groundbreaking biophysics research entitled

May 2024



Biophysics Week

Biophysics Bridge Builders: Connecting Students & Scholars The Membrane Transport Subgroup of BPS hosted a success ful virtual meeting on March 22 as part of Biophysics Week 2024. The "Biophysics Bridge Builders: Connecting Students & Scholars" event aimed to connect students and postdoctor al researchers with established scientists in ion channels and transporters. A diverse group of experimental and compu tational biophysicists participated in the event. They shared their experiences navigating postdoc life and transitioning to faculty positions, and provided valuable insights into the latest advancements, future directions, and challenges within ion channel and transporter research. Students gained

Single-Molecule Forces, Manipulation & Visualization Subgroup Virtual Seminar To commemorate Biophysics Week 2024, the BPS Single- Molecule Forces, Manipulation and Visualization Subgroup orchestrated a virtual seminar on March 20, featuring four accomplished speakers from across the world: Jinqing Huang from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; David Rueda from Imperial College London; Murat Sunbul from the University of Heidelberg; and SRAA Poster Award ee Guoming Gao from the University of Michigan. Attendees, comprising both seasoned single-molecule enthusiasts and newcomers, were treated

to insightful presenta tions on cutting-edge applications of optical tweezers and fluores cence microscopy tools in elucidating the mechanism of DNA-ligand and protein interactions, as well as the localization of RNA and proteins within cells and condensates.

valuable insights into the field of membrane transport and potential career paths. Postdocs benefited from discussions on balancing research and family life, including navigating sit uations where both partners are principal investigators. The event was organized by Deepak Kumar and Tharaka Wijerathne under the guidance of Yun Lyna Luo from Western University of Health Sciences.

BPS BiV Subgroup Mini-Symposium The Biopolymers in vivo (BiV) Subgroup hosted a symposium highlighting research done by its SRAA poster competition winners on March 21. Kara Hunter , a graduate student at University of California, Merced, gave a talk about designing intrinsically disordered proteins which help organisms survive

BPS Cryo-EM Subgroup Webinar For Biophysics Week, the BPS Cryo-EM Subgroup hosted a webinar by Bridget Carragher , Technical Director of the Chan Zuckerberg Imaging Institute, titled “Better, Faster, Cheaper, Smarter: Advances in Cryo-EM/ ET.” Carragher gave a personal perspective on the history and development of cryo-EM as a technique, from the early days of “blobology” to the latest developments in single-particle cryo-EM and in situ cryo-ET.

desiccation, and Upasana Mallimad ugula , a graduate student at Wash ington University in St. Louis, gave a talk about how cryptic pockets affect filovirus immune evasion. Both talks were excellent and brought up inter esting points regarding protein design and how protein structure may dy namically fluctuate in vivo. The Zoom event allowed for a wide variety of people to attend the talks and brought together researchers from different career levels.

In the latter half of the talk, Carragher gave a preview of the exciting developments at the new Chan Zuckerberg Imaging Institute that opened its doors in early 2023. The Institute will focus on the development of the necessary technologies to achieve routine near-atomic resolution structure determina tion in a native cellular context, including the development of practical laser phase plate imaging to improve contrast, and optimization and automation of the cryo-ET image processing workflow.

May 2024



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