ACS: Good to the last drop

Man, those physical chemists sure can throw a good chemical biology meeting. I finally got a chance to join in the ‘Functional Motions in Enzyme Catalysis’ session, and it was well worth the wait. Though each of the three talks was excellent, what was particularly interesting were some of the commonalities that emerged in the lectures and the subsequent panel discussion.

  • Vern Schramm pointed out that the conversations throughout this symposium were completely different than what would have been discussed 10 years ago. Things are moving fast.
  • As Richard Schowen particularly noted, the question of protein dynamics is big, and is only going to get bigger. One of the seemingly few sources of controversy in the field (or one of the linguistic barriers, as Peter Wolynes suggested) is whether dynamics plays a direct role in catalysis or not.
  • Investigations of protein folding and dynamics is growing more and more interdisciplinary.
  • It seems the people in the field are adapting well to the significant conceptual shifts. One person even said that, at the beginning of the meeting, he was convinced of one idea, but by the end of the meeting, he needed to rethink.

And for the rest of my thoughts on this, you’ll have to stay tuned to the journal in the next few months…

Instead I’ll close the conference with two funny quotes from the afternoon, both courtesy of Rudolph Marcus:

“We’ve got an equation! Now we can test it!”

“Among friends, who cares about a factor of 10 or 100…”

It’s funny – often before an ACS meeting, I wonder why I’m going when – as the criticism goes – it’s such a big meeting and so impersonal. Yet every time I come away amazed at how much I’ve learned and what lovely people I met. Looking forward to the next one.

Catherine (associate editor, Nature Chemical Biology)