Concentrating in basic research: what I saw in KAW100

In the area of scientific research, especially those concentrate in fundamental, mechanistic understanding, the major blockade is definitely looking for funding opportunity. That’s why I heard of the Wallenberg Foundation (in a research group’s prate, indeed) much earlier than recognizing that the Wallenberg Family regimens Swedish finance sector, indirectly contributes to half of the country’s income! It wasn’t until last Friday, that Jubilee Symposium in Molecular Science of Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW100), answers a part of my curiosity.

Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation

Founded by the couple Knut and Alice Wallenberg, KAW aims at promoting excellent Swedish research and education since 1917. As the foundation is stepping into its 100th year right now, a handful of symposia covering digital technology, life science, physics and social science were held or are in schedule staring from April across the country.

Of course, I was in the one on 15th September!

My name card. A day starts in Science!

Molecular Life Science Symposium

There are three topics in this symposium, namely proteomics, structural biology and human evolutionary biology. In each session, it starts with the presentation from one of the luminaries in the field about their landmark work, followed by exciting work done by young, local scientists.

After the welcome remarks, Prof. Carol Robinson from Oxford University is the first presenter:

PROTEOMICS

For the general public, Prof. Robinson is perhaps most well known for her title as the first chemistry professor and Oxford, and completion of her phD degree with only two years. But only after studying Biophysical Chemistry and Proteomics, I learn to appreciate her scientific achievement: structural study of membrane protein using mass spectrometry (MS).

Typical membrane-spanning proteins can be receptor, ion channel or energy pump, the thing that they share is that they are big, complex, and oil-liking. With these properties, it is almost predestine that they are extremely hard to isolate and purify, probably defy attempts in crystallization as well. Compared to X-ray crystallization, MS opens a new door to studying of this “rebellious” member of protein family.

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