Artist Wolfgang Ganter, biochemists Dr. John LaCava and Dr. Dmitry Alexeev at the School of Molecular and Theoretical Biology – Summer 2017


The School of Molecular and Theoretical Biology is based on a belief that many students of high school age are ready to participate, intellectually and through work in the laboratory, in real scientific experiments. They believe that the experience of working in a real research environment is helpful in deciding whether science and research is for you. They offer a chance to work on a real scientific question alongside real scientists with a possibility of obtaining real and novel results. At the school students hear lectures, learn how to perform different techniques and calculations and explore current ideas in areas of molecular and theoretical biology.

This year ArtSci Nexus Scientific Director Dr. John LaCava and Dr. Dmitry Alexeev invited artist Wolfgang Ganter to contribute to their wet lab experiments.

In LaCava’s section they ran three parallel “clusters” during the laboratory sessions; each designed to explore a different aspect of protein interactions research.

Synopsis of the clusters:

Dr. LaCava cluster: Compare the performance of different mouse monoclonal antibodies for their ability to purify protein complexes associated with human LINE-1 retrotransposons. LINE-1s are selfish genes that inhabit human genomes and may cause diseases and exacerbate cancer.
Dr. Ketaren cluster: Use protein affinity reagents known as nanobodies (small, single-chain antibody fragments derived from camelids) to purify GFP-tagged model protein complexes and determine the most efficient approach. Nanobodies are a cutting edge affinity reagent and are the topic of intense research as tools for basic and clinical research, diagnostics, and therapeutics.
Dr. Alexeev cluster: Explore and use computational tools for PPI analyses: obtain and visualize data from public repositories. Infer protein complexes that may form with LINE-1 retrotransposons based on integrating unpublished and publicly available data.

Text from Molbio School website

The Team – Alexeev, LaCava, Ganter (right to left)


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