The first exciting news on the new Prasad lab blog is that the conference on the Cellular Cytoskeleton is finally almost here. This conference has an interesting history. Like many others I enjoyed conferences for a chance to see what people were doing; however you sometimes wanted to be able to just sit down and talk, and throw around ideas. Traditional conference formats are not very good in that, though conferences like the Gordon conference series do achieve that to some extent. One of my favorite experiences was a brain-storming session on the glass transition organized by Bulbul Chakraborty and Jane’ Kondev at Brandeis University, while I was still a starting graduate student. That was what science was supposed to be about … a bunch of smart people collectively trying to solve a problem. That seemed to be the perfect format for quantitative and systems biology, since I sometimes get the impression that biologists and theorists sometimes don’t ‘get’ each other! When I was a postdoc at MIT I was talking about all of that to Dan Needleman, who was a postdoc at Harvard and a friend. Dan was thinking on similar lines and we threw ideas around about what we could do. Dan spoke with Dimitrios Vavylonis, who is in the physics department at Lehigh, and the three of us started imagining a real life conference. Since Dan and Dimitrios both worked on the cytoskeleton (which was something that interested me too) we decided to start with organizing a discussion centered conference on the Cytoskeleton that would bring together modelers from physics and engineering with cytoskeleton biologists and give them a chance to talk with each other in a relaxed and secluded environment. When I came to Colorado State University, James Bamburg, who has done pioneering work on cytoskeletal biology, and Meredith Betterton who, like me, is a theoretical physicist working on biology joined the group. The five of us then started contacting people, and applied for a CSU internal grant from International Programs which we got. That was the seed money which enabled the whole thing to go forward… but till a few months ago I was still worrying!
The conference is going full steam ahead. Join us on June 13 at 12 noon in Fort Collins, Clark A203 on the CSU campus for the first day, an eclectic mix of modelers and experimentalists, who will lay out those aspects of cytoskeletal dynamics which we will be discussing in greater detail in Pingree Park from Monday, June 14th. The conference website is here: