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What is MBN2024?

The aim of this one-day meeting is to stimulate discussion between the many experimental and theoretical molecular biophysics researchers in the Northeastern United States. To increase the participation of younger scientists (undergraduates through junior faculty), the majority of the presentations will be selected from submitted abstracts, and there will also be a poster session. While this is a meeting for all, to help us plan, we ask that you register as early as possible. Hope to see you soon!


While roughly half of the meeting will be dedicated to talks selected from abstracts (priority for students), we are also pleased to have already confirmed an outstanding set of invited speakers.

Keynote Speakers

Ken Dill - SUNY Stony Brook - Ken is widely known for his seminal contributions to the theory of protein dynamics and evolution.
Title: The Origins of Life: An uncanny resemblance to the old Protein Folding Problem
Abstract: How did the first living cells come into being from the earth's molecular soup 3.5 billion years ago? Despite much speculation - maybe RNA came first, or proteins, or chemical networks - there's not yet a consensus origins story. New insights are coming from thinking not just about life's molecules, but about biology's process of adaptation. The Darwinian evolution process must have preceded the origins of life. This, and the apparent needle-in-a-haystack nature of sequence space, indicate a key role of proteins in life's origins.

Lila Gierash - UMass Amherst - Lila is a leader in the development and application of spectroscopic techniques to study the dynamics of biomolecules.
Title: How Hsp70 molecular chaperones recognize substrates that need their help: Selective promiscuity
Abstract: Successful folding of proteins in the cell and their delivery to appropriate destinations are challenging processes. Incompletely folded proteins are sticky, causing them to be prone to inappropriate interactions and aggregation, problems now recognized to underlie many pathologies, especially neurodegenerative diseases. A complex system of molecular chaperones and degradation machines operates in the cell to mitigate against protein misfolding diseases. The maintenance of protein homeostasis, or proteostasis, relies on the ability of chaperones and degradation machines to bind to proteins that need their help to fold to their native states or are irrevocably misfolded. We have sought to understand the basis of the recognition of substrates by the highly prevalent and multifunctional molecular chaperones, the Hsp70s. The most amazing aspect of the protein homeostasis network is that it acts on the entire proteome. Hence, chaperones must have promiscuous binding. However, it is crucial that chaperones only bind to those proteins that are incompletely folded. In this talk, I will describe how the use of peptides as models for regions of proteins that act as recognition sites has provided insight into the basis of selective promiscuity in Hsp70 chaperone/substrate binding.

Invited Speakers

Haribabu Arthanari - Harvard University
Ashley Carter - Amherst College
Paul Robustelli - Dartmouth College
Erika Taylor - Wesleyan University

Registration Information

There are a few points to consider when preparing to register, or submit an abstract:
  • Thanks to the generous support provided by UMass, we are able to offer a very small registration fee! There is no fee for invited speakers and session chairs.
  • Payment is not due at the time of registration. After you register using the google form, we will send payment information (a secure markeplace interface).
  • If you are submitting an abstract (poster, or talk), it must be uploaded at the time of registration (same form, below).
  • Abstracts should include a title, text and author list (with affiliations).
  • Abstracts may only contain text and should be 150-250 words in length.
  • Abstracts selected for oral presentations will be notified by late March.
  • Any abstract that is not selected for an oral presentation will be scheduled for a poster.


March 15th (extended) : Submission deadline for abstracts to be considered for oral presentations
April 1st : Poster abstract submission deadline
April 1st : Early registration deadline. Registration fee of $15 (no fee for invited speakers and session chairs)
April 8th : Late registration deadline. Registration fee of $30

Registration Form

To submit an abstract and/or register for the meeting, please use the following REGISTRATION FORM.


Jianhan Chen (chair, contact) - UMass Amherst
Krisztina Varga - University of New Hampshire
Sijia Dong - Northeastern University
Eric May - UConn
Paul Whitford - Northeastern University