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Join us for the fifth FoNS Seminar! All welcome. Followed by a drinks reception after the seminar.

Data Centric Engineering – Hype or Hope

Professor Mark Girolami (Chair of Statistics)
Lloyd’s Register Foundation / Royal Academy of Engineering Research Chair in Data Centric Engineering, Department of Mathematics

Lord Kelvin is attributed to stating that “To Measure is to Know”. The role of empirical observation and data has always been core to the engineering sciences and associated professions. So what does Data Centric Engineering actually mean? is this yet another bandwagon of hype or is there substance behind the term? Prof Girolami will investigate this and make a case for Data Centric Engineering in this talk. View some further details from a recent talk given at the Royal Society.

Refractive Index Tomography for Larger Microscopic Biology

Jack Maxwell (PhD student, Physics Department)

How does the speed of light vary within biological media? A new technique known as refractive index (RI) tomography answers this question on the sub-cellular level by combining optical “phase imaging” with tomographic methods pioneered in medical imaging. To extend the object scale up to 100s of microns, my PhD project is to design a new optical system which will allow reconstruction of RI in larger, more highly scattering specimens. In this talk, I will give a brief overview of the field, then describe my work, its motivation, and my current progress.

The pore formation of Viral Protein U of HIV in lipid bilayers using all-atom molecular dynamics

Shukai Wang (PhD student, Chemistry Department)

Transmembrane (TM) proteins are essential components in biological membranes. They have a great range of activities and are integral for membrane functionality. Currently 50% of drugs target transmembrane proteins and yet little is known about their structure-function relationships. Vpu is an accessory type-I integral TM protein in the HIV virus. It is believed that Vpu assists the HIV virus to infect cells, even at low viral load, by forming an ion-channel/pore-like structure. However, the structure and the mechanism of the pore remain unknown. Our simulations have shown that only one Vpu polypeptide is needed to form the pore, by comparing a parallel model using a human protein in the bilayer. This is the first study of the pore formation mechanism using simulations over 2 micro-second and a fully-NMR-resolved model. The results of this study advance the understanding of the pore formation mechanism of Vpu during HIV infection, and hence provide a foundation for future drug design studies. We are currently seeking experimental validation of this result.

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