The intersection of metals and biology is fascinating and far-reaching. Biological systems harness and exploit unique properties of metal ions for functions ranging from scaffolding to energy production. Fundamental molecular transformations that are central to global energy and chemical cycles and critical to all domains of life take place at biological metal centers. Organisms have evolved mechanisms to traffic metal ions inside of cells, to scavenge metals from the environment, and for protection against environmental metal toxicity, often remodeling the environment itself. The properties of metals have been fundamental to medical advances from imaging to therapeutics.
Understanding and replicating biological metal interactions involves unique challenges that have driven spectacular, creative advances in many fields. The topic elicits outstanding biochemistry, molecular biology, and structural biology. Metalloenzymes catalyze multistep reactions in the ultimate 'green' conditions of aqueous solution and ambient temperature and pressure, with exquisite specificity. Synthetic chemistry plays a central role in developing and demonstrating principles underlying these reactions, as well as creating new probes to detect, track, and control inorganic elements in biology. Major advances in spectroscopic techniques have been driven by the need to interrogate metal centers in proteins and in cells. Different levels of theory have been developed that address the challenges of metal ion properties. New multimodal 'omics' are providing platforms to embrace the complexity of interactions, and replicating and expanding metalloprotein and electron transfer networks is being approached through synthetic biology. The field is addressing overarching questions about evolution and early earth conditions, and metallobiochemistry in oceans and extreme environments.
Since its inception, the Metals in Biology GRC has brought together experts from an array of disciplines to address these questions in an impressively interactive and energetic atmosphere. The meeting is designed to foster discussion and collaboration between scientists from this wide range of areas. In addition to the lectures, interactive poster sessions that facilitate discussions in an open atmosphere are a major highlight of the MIB-GRC. A core principle of this community is to support an inclusive environment and advance diversity and gender equity for all meeting participants.
The Gordon Research Seminar (GRS) in Bioinorganic Chemistry is closely associated with the MIB GRC. This meeting typically draws graduate and postdoctoral students from a variety of laboratories studying metals in biology. The GRS overlaps with the MIB GRC meeting for one evening session on Thursday, including a poster session that allows students to meet and interact with established scientists in their research areas. We specifically encourage graduate students and postdocs to take advantage of these unique educational opportunities and to participate in either the MIB GRC conference or the Bioinorganic Chemistry GRS or both.
The conference will consist of nine sessions, on the topics listed below. The conference chair is currently developing their preliminary program, which will include the names of the invited speakers and discussion leaders for each of these sessions. The preliminary program will be available by July 1, 2019. Please check back for updates.
- Metals and Scaffolds in Control of Complex Biological Reactions
- Oxygen: Evolution, Protection and Manipulation
- Mechanism and Design of Biological Reactions with Nonreactive Molecules
- Sensing, Providing and Interrogating Inorganic Elements Inside and Beyond the d-Block
- Metals in Motion: Trafficking, Storage and Delivery
- Bioinorganic Chemistry and an Evolving Planet
- Protons, Electrons, Wires and Resistance
- Intersections Between Metals, the Environment and the Economy
- Embracing Complexity in Biological Metal Ion Interactions