Beckman Student Seminar Series Features Work from the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group, and the Bioacoustics Research Laboratory

The Beckman Institute Graduate Student Seminar Series presents the work of outstanding graduate students working in Beckman research groups. The seminars are open to the UIUC campus. The November 8 seminar begins at noon in Room 1005 of the Beckman Institute.

Speakers and abstracts are listed below:

Studies of Lipid Membrane Structure on Different Scales
Teemu Murtola (TCB/Helsinki University of Technology)

Lipid bilayers are a central structural component of biological membranes. The local structure of the bilayer is also involved in organization and functioning of membrane proteins. Current computer resources enable studies of small patches of bilayers at atomic scales; however, studies of phenomena such as domain formation require simpler, coarse-grained models. In this work, we examine the structure of one- and two-component model membranes using computer simulations of coarse-grained as well as atomistic models. The coarse-grained models are constructed to match selected structural properties of small-scale atomistic simulations. The results provide insight into the formation of domains in bilayers. They also show that very simple models, when carefully constructed, can capture the qualitative behavior of complex systems such as lipid bilayers.

The Role of Ultrasound Contrast Agent in Producing Sonoporation
Monica Forbes (BRL)

Ultrasound (US) and US contrast agents (UCA) can be used in sonoporation to deliver therapeutic compounds non-invasively into specific target cells. The applicability of sonoporation is hindered by the lack of knowledge regarding the mechanism. Inertial cavitation (IC) of UCAs is the assumed mechanism; however, most of the data provided in the literature are circumstantial evidence and do not definitively indicate that IC is the cause of the sonoporation. UCAs can also produce microstreaming, shear stresses, and liquid jets as a result of linear and nonlinear oscillations at pressure levels well below the threshold for IC. Since these physical phenomena could also cause biological effects, a rigorous study to determine the biophysical mechanism of sonoporation must be conducted. Current studies are aimed at determining the role, if any, IC plays in eliciting sonoporation. This study will directly compare the results of sonoporation to the collapse threshold of the UCA for a range of conditions and evaluate if inertial cavitation is necessary for sonoporation.