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Single-molecule Biophysics: A Hands-on Approach to Your Molecules

Dinner and social hour begin at 7:00 pm with an approximately hour-long presentation and question-and-answer session to follow. There is a suggested contribution of $3 for non-students.

Our Open Seating Policy will be in effect for this event.
Venue capacity = 80 / Estimated day-of RSVP turnout = 60%

Single-molecule Biophysics: A Hands-on Approach to Your Molecules

Laura Finzi
Professor, Department of Physics
Emory University

When talking about experiments in biology or biochemistry, one usually thinks of observing and measuring the average behavior of myriads of unsynchronized molecules undergoing some sort of a reaction or change. These so-called “bulk measurements” often miss out on important mechanistic details of the reaction due to the ensemble averaging. However, all biological reactions are carried out by single molecules.

So what if you could look at one individual molecule at the time, say a piece of DNA, and follow it as it interacts with a regulatory protein? And what if you could actually manipulate that DNA twisting it and curling it to mimic the action of some enzymes present in the nucleus? Wouldn't that be exciting? Well, that is exactly what single-molecule techniques allow doing.

I will introduce three single-molecule techniques that we use in the lab: atomic force microscopy (AFM) for visualization of single molecules, tethered particle microscopy (TPM) for real time observation of the dynamics of single molecules and magnetic tweezers (MTs) for single-molecule manipulation. Then, we will look at how these techniques may be applied to the study and characterization of the mechanisms, such as genetic switches, that underlie regulation of gene transcription.

About our speaker
Laura Finzi is a biophysicist and a full professor in the department of Physics at Emory University and the principal investigator at the Finzi Lab there. She was born in Italy where she grew up and went to school. She attended the University of Bologna, received her Ph.D. at the University of New Mexico and was a postdoctoral fellow first, at the University of Oregon then, at Brandeis University.

At Emory she teaches both undergraduate and graduate classes and she leads a research laboratory whose focus is on the understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate the transcription of genes. Laura is married and has two children, a dog and a cat. She has a variety of interests, among which is baking.

Top image: Frame from a tethered particle motion simulation (courtesy of Deltafunction, Wikimedia Commons)

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  • Carolyn M.

    so sorry, something came up!

    March 23, 2013

  • Michelle

    Would like to attend this...very interesting

    March 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Molecular motor specialist coming out to meet the other interesteds

    February 25, 2013

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