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Archive for June, 2011


Prof Nigel Hooper from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Leeds University will be giving a seminar on Monday 4th July at 4 pm in SR2, Life Sciences Building.

Nigel Hooper’s research interests cover proteolysis in neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases, proteases involved in processing the Alzheimer’s amyloid precursor protein and the prion protein. cholesterol-rich lipid rafts which regulated the processing of the amyloid precursor protein, the prion protein in cellular copper metabolism and the resistance of cells to oxidative stress. He also has translational interests in candidate biomarkers for the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and structure-based design and chemical synthesis to develop novel drugs to target Alzheimer’s disease.

This seminar should be very interesting, particularly giventhe quality of the one he gave some years ago.

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Our invited review in the Journal of Materials Chemistry is now published. The review critically examines the current state-of-the-art for controlling the surface properties of nanoparticles and for grafting recognition functions to them that can drive self-assembly processes. The review focusses on gold nanoparticles, because self-assembly of ligands on gold surfaces of various types is a very important paradigm. The review first examines template-driven self-assembly using both synthetic and natural templates. The important question of whether ligands in a self-assembled monolayer are mobile or form stably separated phases is then addressed. This provides the background for approaches that aim to control the stoichiometry and position of ligands on the nanoparticle. The challenge of determining the structure of self-assembled monolayers on a 3-dimensional nano-object are highlighted; this challenge will have to be met, if we are to be able to drive bottom up in a rational manner the self-assembly of individual nanoparticles into higher order structures.
The themed issue as a whole is a great collection of articles – fantastic reading material for the beach in the course of my holiday in July!

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I had likened the organisation of visits to seven Research Institutes in A*STAR on Wednesday to cat herding – an impossible job given academics’ preference for freedom! On Saturday morning at 10 am all 25 of us assembled in the lobby of the Holiday Inn for a first debrief on the visits to A*STAR, NUS and NTU. Overall a success, we had all had got real traction on future collaborations at several, if not all, of these institutions.
This was an experiment for the university. In the past we have sent a small high level delegation and the success of the venture then depended on people with existing contacts at the partner institution. Here we sent a lot of people out, including a substantial number of early career staff.
The conclusion was that the experiment worked well. One lesson is that we really have to have inside contacts to build such visits, so that individuals can drill down in 1 to 1 meetings to the details of projects and get to know each other sufficiently to develop these projects in the future. So our contacts within A*STAR, NUS and NTU were vital to the success of the enterprise. A personal lesson is that if you are the University person helping a contact organise a visit, you need to arrive a week early and expect a very substantial workload in the course of that week!
I am really looking forward to future visits to Singapore and having a cohort of research students going in both directions.

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We lose a pioneer


Dr. Nathan Sharon has passed away. He pioneered studies on glycoconjugates and lectins and made seminal contributions to the field of glycobiology. Dr. Sharon’s contributions are not only to the scientific literature, but also in communicating the importance of science to the lay public. For his long-lasting contributions to understanding glycoconjugates and the functions of lectins in biological systems, the Society for Glycobiology awarded him the 2008 Rosalind Kornfeld Award for Lifetime Achievement in Glycobiology

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The A*STAR University of Liverpool workshop is taking shape. Virtually everything has been done by Jon Hobley at IMRE. Without his help it would never have seen the light of day. So Sunday was devoted to basic secretarial work, pulling together itineraries for 20 academic staff, extracting 20 CVs from one large PDF and sending e-mails left right and centre to A*STAR investigators across nine Research Institutes.

So far so good and we are in good shape, a few final details to figure out with Jon on Monday, including the venue for dinner! Somewhere convivial where people can mix. My own preference would be a Hawker Centre, a brilliant Singaporean invention, perfectly designed for stimulating networking, but probably not to everyone’s taste.
then on to NUS, followed by NTU on Friday and a reception at the British Embassy.

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Arrived in Singapore on Thursday with the family and went into work after a few hours after landing, while the family wisely slept.
On Friday we went to the Jurong Bird Park. This was very, very good. The rain held off and the range of birds and the scale of the environment they are kept in were most impressive. Some of the birds seem to have the freedom of the sky, yet for some reason don’t stray away – I guess they like the forest, rather than the open and urban country that surrounds the bird park.

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Leica Lecture


Professor Moerner from Stanford University will be giving the next Leica Lecture entitled “Examples, Molecules, and Methods for Super-Resolution Imaging in Cells with Single Molecules”

Monday 27th June at 5pm
Lecture Theatre 1, Sherrington Building, Ashton Street, Liverpool with a post lecture reception at 6.15pm in the foyer outside the lecture theatre. For catering purposes, e-mail Kate Goodheart, if you plan to attend, which you should, since Prof. Moerner is one of the key players who started single molecule imaging.

Background Information:
Professor Moerner is the Harry S. Mosher Professor of Chemistry and Professor, by courtesy, of Applied Physics, at Stanford University.

He has conducted research in the areas of physical chemistry and biophysics of single molecules, nanophotonics, photorefractive polymers, and trapping of single nanoparticles in solution.

He received three Bachelor’s degrees from Washington University in 1975 and the Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Physics from Cornell University in 1978 and 1982.  

He has worked as a Research Staff Member and Manager at IBM Research in San Jose, CA (1981-1985); Guest Professor of Physical Chemistry, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (1993-1994); Professor and Distinguished Chair in Physical Chemistry, University of California-San Diego (1995-1998); Robert B. Woodward Visiting Professor, Harvard University (1997-1998); and Professor, Stanford University (1998-).

A life member of the American Physical Society, he was named Fellow in 1992 and received the Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy in 2001. He also holds Fellowships in the Optical Society of America, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2007, and received the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (with Allen Bard) in 2008.

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