PBSE Fall Research Conference


In the fall of each year, PBSE sponsors a research conference at an off-campus location to introduce new predoctoral fellows to our wider research community. Approximately 150 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty members from the Departments of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, Biomolecular Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology attend. In addition to feature presentations by new PBSE faculty and an invited keynote speaker (see below), the conference includes numerous short presentations by pre- and postdoctoral fellows. The informal conference format is designed to encourage scientific discussion across disciplines to foster future research collaborations.


2018 PBSE Research Conference
Thursday, September 13, 2018

Location: Roaring Camp, 5401 Graham Hill Road, Felton, CA 95018 (directions)

Register Here

We highly encourage carpooling to Roaring Camp as parking will be limited. To sign up to carpool or join another carpool, please click here.

Deadline to register is August 20, 2018



Keynote Speaker: Dr. Timothy Mitchison, Hasib Sabbagh Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard University

 Dr. Mitchison

Chemical Biology of Microtubules

Chemical biology lies at the interface between chemistry, cell biology and medicine. The field
has focused on small molecule discovery and action at the biochemical and cellular levels, but
drugs are also powerful tools to query normal and pathological biology in man. Microtubules
are sub-cellular polymers of the protein tubulin with central roles in cell organization and
division. Many natural product toxins target microtubules, and several became important
medicines, including taxanes and vincas for cancer, and colchicine for inflammatory disease. For
these drugs we already know the protein target and biochemical actions, the challenge is to
understand how they cause therapeutic effects. Addressing this question provides a window
into microtubule biology in man, and may reveal novel therapeutic pathways for development
of better drugs. In the case of taxanes, the key may be their special ability to promote
micronucleation downstream of aberrant mitosis, which triggers inflammatory signaling and
non-cell autonomous anti-tumor actions. In the case of colchicine, the key may be its special
target binding kinetics, which leads to liver-selective drug distribution, and whole-body anti-
inflammatory actions via secreted hepatokines. These proposed mechanisms illustrate the
complexity of small molecule drug distribution and action in man, and the need for chemical
biologists to think beyond molecular targets and encompass human physiology.


Dr. Mitchison's Research

Dr. Mitchison is interested in all aspects relating to microtubules, the cytoskeleton, and cell

Dr. Mitchison received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the University of
California, San Francisco. During his PhD work at the University of California, San
Francisco with Dr. Marc Kirschner, he discovered dynamic Instability of microtubules, a
fundamental aspect of cytoskeleton biology and since then has studied the biochemistry,
dynamics and spatial organization of microtubules and actin filaments with a focus on cell
division mechanisms. Much of his lab's work in this area is based on live fluorescence
imaging and has been at the forefront of the application of novel optical methodologies to
living cells.

In 1997, he moved to Harvard Medical School to Co-direct the Institute of Chemistry and
Cell Biology, a collaboration between chemists and cell biologists, to develop and apply
small molecule screening capabilities in academia. As part of this effort, Dr. Mitchison's
developed a strong interest in cancer chemotherapy and in more rational approaches to
drug development in general. In 2004 he co-founded a new department, Systems Biology,
that aims to bring systematic and quantitative methods to bear on problems in basic cell
biology and medicine and in 2011 he helped found the Systems Pharmacology initiative at
Harvard Medical School, a major interest area within the department, co-Directed by Peter
Sorger and himself.

Dr. Mitchison is the Hasib Sabbagh Professor of Systems Biology, and co-Director of the
Initiative in Systems Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School.

See Dr. Mitchison's website for more information about his research.

Program Schedule and Speaker Bios: Click Here


UCSC's graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and Engineering is supported by training grants from the National Institute of General Medical Science and the National Human Genome Research Institute.