PICS Colloquium: “Protein dynamics and energy landscape engineering” with Gregory Bowman

On Friday, September 17 PICS will host a colloquium featuring Gregory Bowman, Associate Professor Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics at Washington University in St. Louis.

Title: Protein dynamics and energy landscape engineering

Abstract: Experiments only reveal a few of a protein’s structures with the atomic detail required to rationally engineer mutations and drugs. However, a protein actually has a vast landscape of uncharted conformations that present untapped opportunities for manipulating its function. My lab is developing simulation methods, called Markov state models (MSMs), that provide unprecedented access to proteins’ energy landscapes. We are employing these methods to understand how proteins function, to identify “cryptic” drug binding sites, and to design new drugs and proteins. Importantly, we have also developed a suite of experimental techniques for testing our predictions. This highly general platform is enabling progress on numerous scientific fronts. This talk will focus on how we are using this platform to understand and combat viruses like SARS-CoV-2 and Ebola.

Bio: Dr. Greg Bowman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics. His lab is pursuing energy landscape engineering. Specifically, they combine computer simulations and experiments to understand the energy landscapes that determine a protein’s thermodynamics and kinetics, how they are connected to a protein’s function, and new opportunities this insight opens up for designing new drugs and proteins. To enable this work, Greg serves as the Director of the Folding@home distributed computing platform. Folding@home empowers anyone with a computer and an internet connection to become a citizen scientist and combat global health threats by volunteering to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers. The project also strives to educate the over 200K citizen scientists who participate about the basic scientific principles at play, the precise projects being pursued, and the potential impact of the results.