Legendary Lindau

Sat, Jun 29, 2013 by Guest Blogger

Chemistry, English, General

Kevin Eduard Hauser, participant 2013 // My name is Kevin, I’m a PhD candidate in the Department of Chemistry at Stony Brook University, and I research at the Laufer Center under the direction of Professor Carlos Simmerling.

Why am I traveling to Lindau, Germany, a picturesque town on Lake Constance, the surface of which reflects the nature of Swiss and Austrian mountains? Upon reflection, that’s a good question. Here’s the quick answer. I will participate in the 63rd Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates, this year dedicated to Chemistry. 35 Nobel Laureates and 600 participants like me from 78 countries will be there – part of an awesome opportunity to expand scientific and personal perspectives by interacting with great people in a beautiful place. For the USA big US agencies are sending their best and brightest – the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Energy (yes, Nobel Laureate and former scientific adviser to President Barack Obama Steven Chu will be at the Meeting).

The mission of the Lindau Meetings, according to the Lindau Foundation, is to “educate, inspire, and connect (leitmotif).” The Meeting, depending on the year, can be dedicated to Physiology or Medicine or Physiology, Physics and Chemistry. Last year it was physics; poetic given the Discovery of the Higgs Boson was announced while the Meeting was taking place.

What are we researching? The Central Dogma of Molecular Biology describes the directed flow of genetic information — that is, genes are transcribed into messages that are translated into proteins. Some of these proteins, in turn, regulate this flow of information. To understand how proteins do this, our research aims to develop a model of the forces driving the dynamics of protein and DNA structural flexibility and the mechanism of protein-DNA binding and recognition.

What are my preliminary thoughts on the Meeting? Based on good bit of reading, the Meeting is a superlative event for young researchers to participate in the scientific and social dialogue that can drive progress and change.

 On the science side, I will attend one of three Master Class sessions where young researchers have the opportunity to present their research to a Laureate. I won’t be presenting; only one American won the chance to present at a Master Class. I will attend the Master Class New Frontiers in Deciphering Mechanisms of Diseases and in Drug Development led by Nobel Laureate of Chemistry Aaron Ciechanover, Distinguished Research Professor Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. Professor Ciechanover won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Professor Avram Hershko and Professor Irwin Rose.

“…for the discovery of ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation.”

– Nobel Foundation, 2004.

I am also being considered to take part in a special, small group discussion with Nobel Laureates Ada Yonath, The Martin S. and Helen Kimmel Professor of Structural Biology at the Weizmann Institute and Brian Kobilka, Professor of Molecular & Cellular Physiology at Stanford. I hope to debate the outlook of how to approach drug discovery. The plan is for the discussions to be caught on camera and ultimately published by Nature on its website.

Professor Ada Yonath, along with Professor Venkatraman Ramakrishnan and Professor Thomas A. Steitz, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009

“…for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.”

     -Nobel Foundation, 2009.

Professor Brian Kobilka, alongside Professor Robert J. Lefkowitz, won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012

“…for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors.”

-Nobel Foundation, 2012.

On the social side, students from 78 countries will be participating – a positively spectacular opportunity to meet, make friendship, and to cultivate relationships with people to develop networks and collaborations for new dialogue. I firmly believe that heterogeneity in ideas, beliefs, and backgrounds – social and scientific – will lead to a better future; a future that is more conscious of nature and profitable as such, ethical, advanced in technology and culture, and pleasant to live in. The Meeting thus represents the opportunity for me to be at the front of this future and help steer its driving forces.

What does the opportunity to be at the Meeting mean to me?The Meeting is obviously a great honor and privilege for me. This will be a great chance to learn from some of the brightest people on the planet –Nobel Laureates, young researchers, and other attendees. I expect to enrich my perspective by interacting with a diverse and talented group of people. The past ten years have seen tectonic shifts in science and society – what will the next decade hold? I hope to help answer that question, or at least understand it, at Lindau.

How do I think the Lindau Meeting will change my career? Well, I can’t predict the future. But I do plan to learn as much as I can. I hope to chat with really bright people over a range of topics: the evolution of the relationship between computer simulations and experiments; how we can integrate a more diverse population into the voice of science, the goals of science, and the future of science; how we may better discover drugs; how we can deal with global challenges in sustainable, balanced ways; and how we can reinvigorate the relationship between science and society (science is awesome, didn’t you know?). As in life, it’s all about having friends. At Lindau, I hope to make new and awesome friends.

Kevin Hauser

Kevin Eduard Hauser is a PhD candidate in chemistry at Stony Brook University, New York, USA under the guidance of Professor Carlos Simmerling. Kevin grew up in Riviera Beach, Florida. At an early age, Kevin sought to understand DNA and chemistry as he was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy limb girdle, a mild genetic disease. Kevin pursued his B.Sc. in Chemistry at the University of Florida. He worked in Dr. Adrian Roitberg’s lab as an undergraduate student and later worked in Dr. Rodney J. Bartlett’s lab as a post bac. Kevin joined the Simmerling Lab in 2009, and since then, he has secured three fellowships. His most recent fellowship, NIH National Research Service Award, funds his current project which seeks to understand how the information in DNA is controlled by researching the mechanism of protein-DNA binding and recognition using atomistic molecular dynamics simulations.




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