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Thematic Meetings

Engineering Approaches to Biomolecular Motors:

From in vitro to in vivo

Attendees representing 12 countries met at Simon Fraser University Harbour Centre to discuss and share their research.

In June, approximately 100 scientists and engi-

neers from diverse backgrounds gathered in Van-

couver, Canada, at Simon Fraser University for the

Biophysical Society thematic meeting,


Approaches to Biomolecular Motors: From in vitro to

in vivo


The program ranged from artificial motors based

on DNA, peptides, proteins, and supramolecular

chemistry, through the engineering of biological

motors and their incorporation into nanodevices

and on to reconstituted systems and living cells.

Theoretical perspectives provided insight into the

workings and fundamental operational limits of

these machines. The science presented showed

that both bottom-up and top-down engineering

approaches had reached a level of maturity where

major advances are being made into understanding

and utilizing molecular motors.

The breadth of the program engaged scientists

who do not normally meet together, spawning

lively and challenging discussions. Single-mole-

cule methods abounded, spilling from synthetic

constructs to cell biology. The program was

dense, with 36 presentations plus nine session in-

troductions, yet, the theater remained full until the

very end. Thirty-seven posters were presented over

two sessions: four students and one postdoc were

awarded prizes from the

Biophysical Journal


their excellent presentations. Each poster present-

er delivered a one-minute “flash talk” as part of the

oral sessions to raise awareness of their science.

The meeting was capped by a harbor cruise around

Vancouver. The weather was perfect, allowing

the participants to enjoy spectacular vistas of the

mountains and bay surrounding Vancouver from

the decks of the paddle boat, culminating in a

picturesque sunset. During the cruise, there were

numerous discussions regarding the potential for

subsequent meetings to draw together a similar

cohort of scientists to discuss progress in the field

and to map the future.

The meeting’s organizing committee members


Zev Bryant

, Stanford University, United


Paul Curmi

, University of New South

Wales, Australia,

Nancy Forde

, Simon Fraser Uni-

versity, Canada,

Heiner Linke

, Lund University,

Sweden, and

Samara Reck-Peterson

, University of

California, San Diego, United States.

Paul Curmi

, University of New South Wales,