Life Sciences Baltics 2021 announces Nobel winning keynote speaker

Life Sciences Baltics 2021 announces Nobel winning keynote speaker

Richard Henderson, the winner of the 2017 Nobel prize in chemistry, will deliver a keynote speech at the international conference of the 5th edition of Life Sciences Baltics which will be held in digital format on 20-24 September this year.

Dr Henderson won the Nobel Prize in 2017 for the method of cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM). He shared the prize with his colleagues Jacques Dubochet from the University of Lausanne and Joachim Frank from the University of Columbia.

Dr Henderson‘s speech will take place on 22 September from 10.15 to 11 am during the opening session of the international conference. An interview with the Nobel winner will follow from 11 to 11.30 am.

Dr Henderson is a structural biologist, with a background in physics. His scientific interests were initially focused on protein crystallography using X-ray diffraction, then electron crystallography applied to bacteriorhodopsin. Later, the researcher at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge paid entire attention to single particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM).

The scientist of Scottish descent was the first to successfully capture a three-dimensional image of a protein at atomic resolution. This breakthrough demonstrated the potential of technology – now CryoEM has reached a stage where it is possible to obtain in principle the three dimensional atomic structures of any macromolecular complexes.

CryoEM simplifies and improves the quality of microscopic images of biomolecules, which means that scientists can visually capture processes performed by biomolecules and better understand what is happening in cells. This way more effective medicines can be developed.

This method was also used to determine the structure of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and its cellular receptor during infection.

Currently, Dr Henderson is solving the remaining puzzles of cryoEM in order to make the method reach its theoretical potential. His research activities expanded from initial work on bacteriorhodopsin, with its 7 trans-membrane helices, to include an interest in G protein-coupled receptor structure. The Nobel prize winner is also one of the co-founders of Heptares Therapeutics Ltd.

Daina Kleponė, the General Manager of Enterprise Lithuania which is the main organizer of the event, is excited to welcome such an honored guest as Dr Henderson, saying “It is wonderful to have Dr Henderson joining us and willing to share his expertise. He has perfected the method that led to enormous advances in biochemistry and opened up a new era of research opportunities. I am sure all who will attend will gain much from the event”.

On 22-23 September the digital conference will cover a wide range of topics: digital health, gene editing, early drug discovery, personalized medicine in practice, microbiome and emerging technologies for medicine. A special session dedicated to COVID-19 developments will be held on the second day of the conference.

Organized biannually by Enterprise Lithuania, Life Sciences Baltics is a forum that provides endless networking opportunities for meeting life sciences representatives from the Baltic countries and the world. The event consists of international scientific conference, exhibition, B2B meetings, masterclasses and pitch battle for startups.

“This year Life Sciences Baltics goes online with the opportunities to meet and participate available throughout the week. Though in digital, our mission remains the same – to offer as many opportunities as possible to establish exciting new connections and bring ideas to life,” says Ms Kleponė.

More information on this topic

Augustė Užpelkytė
Augustė Užpelkytė
Industry Development Manager | High technology team

Life Sciences | “Life Sciences Baltics” project

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