Eva Nogales, professor at University of California, Berkeley, has made significant discoveries with the usage of cryo-electron microscopy.
A globally recognized professor, Nogales gave the 17th James P. Holland Memorial Lecture on Monday in Myers Hall. She discussed her research to increase known facts about microtubule dynamics and transcription initiation.
“That’s what really motivates me is curiosity and wanting to understand molecular details at the physical and chemical level of this process,” Nogales said.Nogales and her team have been gaining detailed insight into eukaryotic biology, specifically the study of macro molecular assemblies. Using cryo-electron microscopy, they are able to look closer at the structures and interpret more information. The process essentially takes a 2-D image and converts it into a 3-D structure.
Cryo-electron microscopy allows scientists to study these systems without crystallization. It can be applied to large complexes, and it needs only a small amount of a sample. With this process, Nogales said, they are able to study fully assembled complexes in near physiological conditions, as well as in different functional states.
“What is exciting about this method is that it is very generally applicable,” Nogales said.
Nogales explained she’s not the only one studying and improving knowledge of these structures. Other scientists understand the details well enough to make discoveries in drug design.
“That can modify protein activity, either by changing it, sometimes enhancing it, depending upon the nature of the disease that is being treated, to eliminate it,” Nogales said.The memorial lecture series is now organized annually by the Department of Biology and the Herman C. Hudson and James P. Holland Scholars Program. It started in fall 2000 in honor of Jim Holland and to support and bring awareness to diversity in the life sciences.
“Jim worked hard and sacrificed a lot to obtain his education,” IU Department of Biology chair Clay Fuqua said in his introduction of Nogales. “Perhaps it’s not surprising that he cared so much about how other students, how other people, fared.”