Georgia Tech Hosts Symposium on the Ribosome
For the 19th year, Georgia Tech is hosting the Suddath Symposium in honor of Leroy "Bud" Suddath, a late professor of the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry. This year's meeting focuses on the ribosome and its structure, function and evolution, exploring scientific implications ranging from understanding the origin and early evolution of life to the development of novel pharmaceuticals. The symposium is organized by the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience (IBB), the Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution, and NASA on April 1-2.
“We are excited that this year's symposium will feature foremost experts on the ribosome, including the 2009 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry – Professor Ada Yonath (Weizmann Institute)," said Adegboyega Oyelere, assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the symposium chair.
This annual symposium celebrates the life and contributions of Suddath by discussing the latest developments in the fields of bioengineering and bioscience. The speakers include leading researchers from across the globe. Due to the high quality of the speakers, the 2011 meeting sold out weeks ago.
“If you can not register for the in-person meeting, which is now at capacity, you still have an opportunity to attend virtually. We are using social networking tools for world-wide participation in the meeting,“ said co-organizer, Loren Williams, professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of the Center for Ribosomal Origins and Evolution.
Georgia Tech has partnered with NASA to showcase the symposium, in its entirety, over the internet. Virtual participants will view the presentations in real-time and can chat with the other cyber-attendees using Facebook on the home page of the symposium's website. Over 200 attendees, more than twice the number that will attend in person, from around the globe have registered to participate virtually. Countries represented include Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, India, Iran, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, Portugal and Venezuela.
“IBB will be showcased around the world as people beam into the seminar room to see our local symposium worldwide,” Williams said.
The ribosome is a molecular machine that is responsible for protein synthesis in all living cells. This indispensable component of life, which contains both RNA and proteins, can be viewed as a molecular fossil. That is, the comparison of ribosomal RNA and proteins from distantly related organisms suggests that the origins and evolution of protein synthesis remain imprinted in present day ribosomes, providing a “rewindable” molecular recording of early evolution that appears to go all the way back to the origin of life. Because the ribosome is central to the biochemistry of all life, it is a major target for drug development.
Each year, the Suddath Symposium theme changes, although the scientific committee selects an interdisciplinary topic that they feel Suddath would have been excited about. "A symposium focusing on the ribosome is particularly fitting, as Bud (Suddath) contributed to solving the structure of tRNA, a key substrate which is used by the ribosome to make proteins,” Oyelere explained. Suddath’s research efforts ultimately led to a set of protein growth experiments aboard the Space Shuttle in 1988.