The third Annual NIH Roadmap Meeting on membrane protein technologies looks very interesting. The past two have attracted an all-star line-up of scientists, just look at the 2009 one, and I would expect the same big names to be there this time.
Solving the structure of membrane proteins is incredibly difficult and the field is very competitive, with most structures going straight into Science or Nature. If a collaborative, sharing environment can be nutured in this arena, then there is hope for every field.
Two attractive developments for this year caught my eye. The first is that there will be a hands-on workshop for a technique called LCP, which produces a membrane-like environment in which some proteins will crystallise. This method can be a devil to perform, with researchers comparing the texture of the starting mixture to toothpaste – try dispensing that with precision through a syringe! Better still, if you take along a protein sample, you might be able to persuade someone else to do it for you.
The other aspect that intrigues me is this notice:
In the spirit of high risk experiments, we will be trying to combine additional IT technologies into the meeting to help create a highly dynamic and interactive setting. As a reminder, the goal of this meeting series is for a very open and shared environment where unpublished and creative technology ideas should be communicated by all attending participants.
I’d love to know more. Sounds like a date for the diary.