Center for Computational Biology Seminar: Dr. David Baker, Department of Biochemistry, University of Washington

Seminar | February 1 | 4-5 p.m. | 125 Li Ka Shing Center

 Center for Computational Biology

Post-Evolutionary Biology: Design of novel protein structures, functions and assemblies

Abstract: Proteins mediate the critical processes of life and beautifully solve the challenges faced during the evolution of modern organisms. Our goal is to design a new generation of proteins that address current day problems not faced during evolution. In contrast to traditional protein engineering efforts, which have focused on modifying naturally occurring proteins, we design new proteins from scratch based on Anfinsen’s principle that proteins fold to their global free energy minimum. We compute amino acid sequences predicted to fold into proteins with new structures and functions, produce synthetic genes encoding these sequences, and characterize them experimentally. I will describe the design of ultra-stable idealized proteins, flu neutralizing proteins, high affinity ligand binding proteins, and self-assembling protein nanomaterials. I will also describe the contributions of the general public to these efforts through the distributed computing project Rosetta@Home and the online protein folding and design game Foldit.

Dr. Baker is a biochemist and computational biologist whose research focuses on the prediction of macromolecular structures and functions. He is the director of the Rosetta Commons, a consortium of labs and researchers that develop the Rosetta biomolecular structure prediction and design program, which has been extended to the distributed computing project Rosetta@Home and the online computer game Foldit. He received his PH.D. in biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and did postdoctoral work in biophysics at University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Baker has received numerous awards in recognition of his work, including the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, the Sackler International Prize in Biophysics, the Overton Prize from the International Society of Computational Biology, and the Feynman Prize from the Foresight Institute. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Sciences.