Special Colloquium: Nobel Prize
Janet Smith, of the University of Michigan, and Robert Fischetti, of Argonne's X-ray Science Division, will explain Argonne's role in the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Smith and Fischetti are part of the group that developed the microbeam at the APS’s General Medical Sciences and National Cancer Institute, or GM/CA, beamlines. They will give an overview of the Nobel Prize winning research, its ramifications for the pharmaceutical industry and the role Argonne Lab and X-ray science played in the discovery.
It was the advent of the first micro X-ray beam for structural biology at the Advanced Photon Source that enabled the research that earned the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and lays the groundwork for countless new pharmaceuticals.
This micro X-ray beam removed a roadblock to studying the small and fragile crystals needed to unravel the structure of G-protein-coupled receptors, or GPCRs. Brian Kobilka, of Stanford University, and Robert Lefkowitz, of Duke University, won the Nobel Prize in October for their work on GPCRs. Almost all of the X-ray work was done at the APS using the microbeam.
GPCRs are receptors embedded in the cell surface that allow the cell to get signals from the outside world brought by molecules carrying information about sight, sound, taste, smell and internal chemicals such as adrenaline. About half of all medications work by connecting with many of the 800 or so human G-protein-coupled receptors.
Janet Smith is Scientific Director of the GM/CA beamline and a Martha L. Ludwig Professor of Protein Structure & Function in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Life Sciences Institute of the University of Michigan. Smith's research focuses on understanding biological processes through knowledge of the structures of key protein molecules. She is a founder and the current chairperson of the Structural Biology Synchrotron Users Organization. She also served on the Department of Energy's Biological and Environmental Research Advisory Committee.
Robert Fischetti is Associate Division Director for Structural Biology in Argonne’s APS X-ray Science Division. He has led the GM/CA group at Argonne since 2001 and has worked at the APS since 1996. He designed and led the development of the micro-crystallography capability at GM/CA.