Top researchers in the fields of chemical biology and physiology were drawn to the 2019 Chemical Biology and Physiology Conference, hosted by OHSU and held Dec. 12-15 in the Knight Cancer Research Building.
175 participants came to the conference, said Carsten Schultz, Ph.D., chair and professor of chemical physiology and biochemistry, OHSU School of Medicine, up from 110 participants in 2017 when OHSU hosted the first conference on the topic.
The following keynote speakers gave inspiring presentations:
- Benjamin Cravatt, Ph.D., Gilula Chair of Chemical Biology, Scripps Research Institution
- Eric Gouaux, Ph.D., Jennifer and Bernard Lacroute Term Chair in Neuroscience Research, OHSU
- Laura L. Kiessling, Ph.D., Novartis Professor of Chemistry, MIT
- Tom Muir, Ph.D., Van Zandt Williams, Jr. Class of ’65 Professor of Chemistry, Chair of Chemistry, Princeton University
Every attendee, including postdocs and graduate students, contributed to the scientific discourse through an invited talk or a flash talk plus a poster, said Dr. Schultz. View the conference program.
“A good overview”
“It was a huge success,” said Dr. Schultz. “We gave participants a good overview of where the field is heading. The field of chemical biology uses the techniques, tools and methods of chemistry to visualize, understand and manipulate biological systems at the molecular level. The most surprising result was that chemical biology is going toward physiology in a much stronger way than even a few years ago. The questions are coming more from physiology than biology, which demands much more sophisticated tools. This is a really good development because this way the field better aligns with medicine.”
Conference science committee members (pictured top) included Dr. Schultz and faculty Tom Scanlan, Ph.D., Mike Cohen, Ph.D., Francis Valiyaveetil, Ph.D., and Xiangshu Xiao, Ph.D. Amy Johnson and Alanna Lapp from the Department of Chemical Physiology and Biochemistry organized the logistics of the conference.
Dr. Schultz said OHSU will host the conference again in 2021, and hopes that the event’s burgeoning reputation will continue to attract preeminent scientists as well as showcase OHSU expertise.
About chemical biology
The field of chemical biology uses the techniques, tools and methods of chemistry to visualize, understand and manipulate biological systems at the molecular level.
For example, synthetically-derived molecules can permeate cells and deliver precisely timed and modified quantities, allowing scientists to better test and elucidate biological interactions and lay the groundwork for drug development.
Chemical biology is different from the field of biochemistry, which studies the inherent chemical reactions inside biological organisms.