2009 Martin and Winifred Ehlers Symposium "Protein Folding and Disease"

October 26, 2009

Each year, the students of the Mayo Graduate School's BMB Program choose a cutting-edge research topic and gather nationally-renowned speakers in the field. This year's symposium was on Protein Folding and Disease.

BMB Student Eric Mahlum comments:
"This year's student organized BMB symposium on protein folding and disease was a blast! Student's were involved in all aspects of the symposium including organizing, invitations, picking speakers up from the airport and taking speakers to dinner after the symposium. The speakers we invited were very interested to learn about the graduate program here at Mayo, in addition to their curiosities about the strange location for such a world-class facility. They were very interested in "the world we live in" here at Mayo Clinic as graduate students and right away realized the many benefits students have in such a "rural environment" with people from around the world as faculty, employees, and students. Although I do not consider protein folding to be my main thesis project, I can certainly realize that protein folding dynamics can play an important role in my CSF1 signaling research in Glioma formation. At dinner with Dr. Byron Caughey, who does prion research at the NIH, I was able to talk about how a peptide that I helped to develop may allow him to deliver his PrP proteins past the blood-brain barrier and into the brain, not through drilling a hole in the skull and injecting, but through simple IV injection. I was able to network with a world class scientist and opened the door for future collaborations."

The student run Symposium was a great success overall as evidenced by attendance and stimulating discussions during the Q&A sessions.

Guest speakers

  • Byron Caughey, Ph.D.
    NIH/NIAID Rocky Mountain Laboratories
    Prions and the transmissibility of protein misfolding

  • Bill Eaton M.D., Ph.D.
    Single molecule FRET trajectories of protein folding and unfolding

  • Ulrich Hartl, M.D., Ph.D.
    Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Martinsried Germany
    Chaperone mechanisms in normal and aberrant protein folding

  • Randy Kaufman, Ph.D.
    University of Michigan
    Protein folding, oxidative stress and cell death

  • Rick Morimoto, Ph.D.

    Northwestern University
    Protecting the proteome by chaperone networks and stress responses in aging and neurodegenerative disease

  • Bill Skach, M.D.
    Oregon Health Sciences University
    Is the Sec61 translocon a membrane protein chaperone?