[PAST EVENT] Physics Colloquium - Rana Ashkar
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- Open to the public
Rana Ashkar -Virginia Tech, Title of Talk: Collective Dynamics in Lipid Membranes: From Fundamental Physics to Health and Disease
Rana Ashkar, Department of Physics & Center for Soft Matter and Biological Physics, Virginia Tech
Zoom Link available upon request. Please email Ellie at [[evwilk]].
Abstract: Lipid bilayers, the main matrix of cell membranes, host a wide range of vital biological processes and are ubiquitous in a variety of research areas at the interface of biophysics, health care, and biotechnology. In order to understand the function of lipid membranes and fully utilize their potential in pharmaceutical and biotechnological applications, it is imperative to understand biophysical membrane properties on the length and time scales over which key membrane functions occur. Among such phenomena, collective membrane fluctuations and molecular reorganizations remain poorly understood despite their crucial role in various cellular processes, including protein-membrane interactions, viral budding, and signaling events. This talk will highlight recent advances in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and neutron scattering studies of collective membrane dynamics, in the form of bending and thickness fluctuations, and their implications on membrane functions. Specific focus will be placed on new findings related to the dynamic response of membranes to cholesterol content, lateral rearrangement, and protein binding events. The talk will also discuss the potential of neutron scattering in addressing existential problems, such as the current coronavirus pandemic, by directly probing the interactions of viruses with cell membranes and by offering solutions for enhanced designs of liposomal vaccine carriers.