Program highlights: 2016 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology meeting

BETHESDA, Md., Feb. 8, 2016 — The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology will hold its annual meeting April 2 – 6 at the San Diego Convention Center. The meeting will be held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference, at which five other sponsoring societies and multiple guest societies also will hold their annual meetings.

Below are the scientific symposia highlights. Each of the 12 symposia will be held over multiple days. For a day-by-day schedule, visit

A closer look under the hood

Enzymes are sophisticated molecular machines that make myriad biochemical reactions in nature possible. Over the past 100 years, scientists have learned a lot about how enzymes function but there is still much unraveling to do in order to precisely delineate the impact these machines have on disease processes. This symposium will provide a tour of the forefront of enzyme research, offering a look under the hood of some of the most sophisticated enzymes currently known. (Schedule:

From bench to bedside

Kinases influence cell signaling, which affects cell growth and differentiation. Abnormal kinase activity is associated with many cancers, and drugs that can inhibit kinases have become a highly successful and growing class of anticancer agents. This symposium will focus on how kinase activity is regulated and on ways to target kinases during cancer treatment. (Schedule:

Next-generation opportunities

Discovery often happens at the intersections of disciplines. Real-world biological challenges such as controlling microbial infections, improving food production and managing global sustainability will require approaches dependent upon chemical biology techniques that combine vast genomic information with powerful analytical tools. This symposium will explore new applications and opportunities for chemical biologists at disciplinary intersections. (Schedule:

How chromatin remodeling influences health

President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative ambitiously aims to gather health data, including genomic information, from a diverse cohort of 1 million volunteer participants. Once those data are gathered, researchers will begin the enormous task of analyzing the differences between individuals and determining what role genetics play in diseases. Previous research has demonstrated that proper regulation of gene expression and function is critical to maintaining health, but our understanding of how this process works remains limited. This symposium will zero in on the relationships between gene regulation and disease, focusing in particular on the impact of remodeling of chromatin structure. (Schedule:

Make no mistake about it

How cells manage to make and maintain an extraordinary amount of DNA while avoiding most errors that lead to mutation and disease remains one of the foremost questions in molecular biology. This symposium will focus on how DNA replication, repair and recombination are done right, and how errors in these processes lead to diseases such as cancer. Aziz Sancar of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, who won the 2015 Nobel prize for his work on DNA repair and the ASBMB's Bert and Natalie Vallee Award in Biomedical Science, will give a lecture about his work Tuesday, April 5. (Schedule:

Training the next generation of biochemists and molecular biologists

Nobelist laureate William Lawrence Bragg once said, "The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them." This quote raises the question of how today's educators should structure training programs so that students maintain their sense of wonder about the world both in and out of academia. This symposium will explore how universities can help students gain a deep and quantitative understanding of biochemistry and molecular biology, engage students on both theoretical and experiential levels, and prepare students for a range of careers. (Schedule:

From humans to bacteria

Glycans — often referred to as carbohydrates, saccharides or sugars — are molecules found in and on every living cell. They affect gene and protein expression. They act as red flags on pathogens for our immune system. They can be used to make renewable materials. And so much more. This symposium will showcase new research about how glycans get tacked onto proteins, how glycans affect basic cellular processes and how learning more about glycans can help researchers combat certain diseases. (Schedule:

They continue to surprise us

As scientists learn more about lipids, it becomes increasingly clear that they play important roles as structural molecules, signaling molecules and regulatory molecules. Determining how lipids are generated and ultimately function will provide researchers a better understanding of how cells and organisms develop and respond to their environments. This symposium will feature presentations on these topics from leaders in the study of lipid function in health and disease. (Schedule:

Drug discovery and the changing landscape of biology

Drug-discovery programs are constantly enlivened by new advances in biochemistry and molecular biology. This symposium will highlight some of the novel approaches being taken to integrate new tools and concepts into the drug-discovery pipeline. (Schedule:

Seeking solutions for a growing problem

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease affects more than 30 percent of the U.S. population. Latinos in America are disproportionately affected by the disease, and it is also on the rise in India and Brazil, underscoring its global impact. The symposium will focus on the molecular signals that contribute to liver failure and the genetics that contribute to disease outcomes. (Schedule:

Shifting paradigms in the regulation of protein functions

The dogma that protein function is solely regulated by the process of translation has been turned on its head. Researchers have recognized that maintenance and degradation processes play equally important roles in dictating protein function, and recent work has shown the impact of misregulation of these processes in diseases such as Alzheimer's. This symposium will consider how, as new tools and methods emerge, unanticipated paradigms of protein function regulation are being formed in this complex and exciting field. (Schedule:

Protein engineering and microbes

The two Straight from the Bench symposia – one about protein engineering and the other about microbes – were organized by graduate students. The protein engineering session will include a keynote lecture about designing and optimizing artificial enzymes, and the microbes session will include a keynote lecture about the organism that causes African sleeping sickness. (More information: and

Breaking down complex biological systems

Biochemical research has evolved from focusing on individual pathways and components to studying entire biological systems, whether it be a single cell, a multicellular organism or a microbial community. The new challenge for researchers is how to integrate findings from different fields and disciplines in order to develop and apply approaches capable of probing these complex systems. At this symposium, experts in network modeling, proteomics and data analysis will present insights into the new linguistics of biological systems research. (Schedule:


About the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The ASBMB is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with more than 12,000 members worldwide. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, at nonprofit research institutions and in industry. The Society's student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions. For more information about ASBMB, visit

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