School Seminar: Dr Sarah Piper, Monash University
Friday, 16 June 11:00am – 12:00pm
This seminar will be delivered in Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4 and Online (Zoom) Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for zoom link and password.
Speaker: Dr Sarah Piper, Monash University
Host: Dr Yu Heng Lau
Title: “Seeing is believing”: Visualising dynamics of membrane receptors using structural biology data in 3D animations
Abstract: Our cellular membranes contain proteins called receptors that transmit signals into the cell. These membrane receptors are therefore gatekeepers of information and are involved in a range of important physiological processes in our bodies. Multiple steps are necessary to activate these membrane receptors as they undergo a range of transient conformational states. The dynamics of these conformational changes fine-tune signalling outcomes.
To better capture and visualise this conformational variability, we utilise data from a variety of protein (structural) biology methods (e.g., cryo-electron microscopy, molecular dynamics simulations, mass spectrometry, receptor pharmacology, etc.) and integrate these data to understand receptor structure and function. How can we utilise structural biology data to tell engaging stories about complex biological processes, which are invisible to the naked eye? We load our data into Blender3D, an open-source 3D computer graphics software, to develop realistic and biologically relevant 3D animations. The illustrative images and movies, based on our experimental data, can both inform drug development and tell visual stories about how these molecules of life work, which can appeal to broader audiences.
Bio: Dr Sarah Piper received her PhD at The University of Queensland in 2019, working in the groups of Prof Glenn King and Assoc Prof Michael Landsberg on cryo-electron microscopy of protein complexes. She is now a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) in Melbourne, specialising in biochemistry and cryo-electron microscopy of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) in the labs of Prof Patrick Sexton and Prof Denise Wootten. She is also heavily involved in science communication and outreach at the ARC Centre for Cryo-electron Microscopy of Membrane Proteins (CCeMMP). Her animations and illustrations of protein structures through the centre, as well as through her social media accounts (@PiperProteins), are based on experimental data and can help to communicate biological processes or can simply be viewed as artistic pieces.