2011 Hans and Marlies Zimmer International Scholar

The Department of Chemistry at the University of Cincinnati is very pleased to present the ninth series of lecture-visits by international scholars actively engaged in areas of frontier chemical research.

Mechanics and Dynamics of Single Protein Molecules

Friday, April 15, 2011
4 p.m.
502 Rieveschl

Proteins are amazing molecular machines that can fold into a complex three dimensional structure in a self-organization process called protein folding. Even though powerful structural methods have allowed us taking still photographs of protein structures in atomic detail, the knowledge about the folding pathways and dynamics as well as material properties of those structures is rather limited. Over the past 15 years, our group has developed single mechanical methods to study the dynamics and mechanics of protein structures. In my talk I will discuss how single molecule atomic force microscopy and optical tweezers can be used to investigate and control the conformational mechanics of individual proteins. Examples include molecular motors as well as protein folding and protein-protein interactions.

Matthias Rief Bio:

Matthias Rief obtained his PhD in Physics in 1997 at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany, working with Prof. H. E. Gaub in the field of dynamic spectroscopy of biomolecules. He continued his studies with a DFG sponsored postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University in the laboratory of J. A. Spudich that focuses on the structure and function of molecular motors. Since 2003, Matthias Rief has been a full professor of Biophysics at the Technische Universität München. He is also Principal Investigator at the Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM). In January 2010, Prof. Rief became the coordinator of a new, DFG sponsored, Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) in Munich entitled "Forces in Biomolecular Systems".

Matthias Rief is one of the leading experts in the single molecule spectroscopy of biomolecules. He has made landmark contributions to the understanding of the mechanics of molecular motors and of the fundamental role played by the energy landscape of a biomolecule in response to tension. Prof. Rief has been recognized with a number of awards, including the Jahrespreis of the German Biophysical Society, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize from the DFG, and the Nanowissenschaftspreis.