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Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Seed Grant: From structures to movies: combining cryo-electron microscopy and computer simulation to reveal macromolecular mechanisms

Seed Grants
Awarded in 2018

Interdisciplinary Initiatives Program Round 9 - 2018

Ron Dror, Computer Science
Georgios Skiniotis, Molecular & Cellular Physiology and Structural Biology

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is revolutionizing our ability to capture three-dimensional structures of the molecular machines that make up our bodies (e.g., proteins), as recognized by a Nobel Prize last year. The function of these machines, however, depends on their dynamics—their ability to change shape. Traditional cryo-EM produces only static structures, making it difficult to decipher how these molecular machines work or how drugs influence their targets (which are almost always proteins). We propose to combine novel cryo-EM methods and novel computational methods to capture movies of these machines in action. This project, if successful, will have a broad impact across molecular biology and therapeutic efforts, accelerating the search for cures to untreatable diseases.