Snakes on a Protein


I’ve just gotten home from the 20th Protein Society meeting in San Diego where, I have to say, I was completely overwhelmed by the quality of the talks I saw. I was also overwhelmed by the beautiful weather, and I frequently found myself asking why I (and everyone, in fact) don’t move to San Diego immediately. One thing that could be keeping people away is the creepy way that the hotel staff use your name when you’re wearing your nametag (‘Here’s your hot chocolate, Catherine!’ … Augh!).

Unlike some of Hollywood’s recent offerings, there were several movies that got my attention during the meeting. One was in a talk by Ron Milo, who is incorporating fluorescent proteins into human genes with retroviruses to monitor what individual proteins are doing and, on a larger scale, assess variability in a population of cells. While not really movies, both Vijay Pande and Dave Baker gave demonstrations of their community-based computational projects, Folding@home and Rosetta@home. While I’m familiar with Baker’s work in protein design, this was my first time seeing him talk; all I can say is that I’m starting a countdown to when he wins the Nobel Prize. Pande’s talk on protein folding assessed by multiple short simulations instead of one long computational run impressed as well in his acceptance of the Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award. Tim Springer never fails to entertain with his integrin signaling interpretive dance (to clarify: he’s not the one dancing). I’ve seen the movie before on his web page, but seeing it in the context of the whole talk was excellent. Finally, Barbara Imperiali demonstrated the power of caged phosphorylation sites in preventing/facilitating cell migration.

As a result, I would like to send this letter on to all involved in the movie enterprise (or at least the recent offering from Samuel Jackson and company):

Dear Hollywood,

I think you can do better.


Catherine Goodman (Assistant Editor at Nature Chemical Biology)

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