Membrane active peptides, career development, and French Quarter

Hello BPSers! Hope everyone had a great sunday. A quick glance through the previous posts definitely hints at the positive. Martin provided a much better description of the parade that I was referring to yesterday, and Gregory was at the same session this morning as myself (not that we met).

The Membrane Active Peptides and Toxins platform session was extremely informative. A majority of the talks (including the one that Gregory mentioned) talked about antimicrobial peptides or AMPs. A large part of the growing interest in AMPs is tied to the problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Widespread use, often abuse, of antibiotics have given rise to strains of bacteria that are resistant to these drugs. This has warranted the search for alternative ways of targeting bacteria, and AMPs provide one such approach by disrupting the membranes of bacterial cells. Detailed understanding of the interaction of AMPs with cell membrane is thus an important aspect of this research, something that biophysicists are equipped to do. Most of these studies are performed with model lipids, which mimic cell membranes.

The session started with Isabelle Marcotte describing in-cell NMR spectroscopy to study AMPs. Cell membranes are made up of a variety of lipids. Model lipids, which have much lower heterogeneity, can make the problem too simple. To bypass this, in-cell NMR technique measures the NMR spectra of AMPs…..guess what…..inside the cell! Interestingly, in the very next talk, Joseph E. Faust presented his results of comparing the effect of AMPs on cell membranes and model lipid membranes. By comparing leakage pattern, permeability, and pore size, he concluded that the model lipids actually do a pretty good job of mimicking the cell membranes. Crazy, right?

The rest of my morning was spent at the Career Center. The session spoke about the importance and ways of looking for career options outside academia. The speaker talked about the various ways of leveraging LinkedIn and MyIDP, an website which helps you find the kind of job that matches your profile, strengths, and interests. A great tool if you haven’t yet figured out your future direction. Don’t lose heart if that’s you: almost 70% of graduate students and postdocs find themselves in the same boat. I would personally encourage you to attend one or more sessions at the Career Center. From my experience of last year and today, these sessions could be more helpful than you think.

Ended the day with dinner at Napoleon House in French Quarter. The ambience was quite different from anything that I have seen before. The streets and the buildings were beautiful. And the sandwich super-tasty. If you are a foodie like myself, definitely check out Napoleon House in the next few days.

I would want to end this post with another piece of information. Quartzy is kindly providing networking cards to everyone who has a poster (and possibly platform/symposium as well). These are incredibly useful for advertising your poster and networking at the BPS. Quartzy used to do it in the past, had briefly stopped it last year, and I cannot thank them enough for starting it again. Their table is right outside Hall B-2 & C (the poster room). Also, if you belong to a group that involves wet lab, check out the awesome products that Quartzy has for managing lab supplies and equipments.

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