Public Release: 

International conference on bioorganic reactions set for Aug. 15-17 by UB Department of Chemistry

University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Bioorganic reactions, essentially the reactions that distinguish living systems from nonliving ones, will be the subject of an international symposium to be held at the University at Buffalo on Aug. 15-17. "Bioorganic Reaction Mechanisms: From Determination to Practical Applications" will feature research on how such reactions occur and how these mechanisms may serve as models for complex biological processes. The results of research in this area are relevant to all areas of chemistry and biology, including the identification of targets for new drugs, the development of combinatorial methods for the synthesis of novel catalysts, and the use of bioinformatics for the analysis of the incredible amount of information produced by the human genome project.

The conference will be held in the Natural Sciences Complex on the UB North (Amherst) Campus. "To meet the specific needs of a cell, biological molecules undergo construction and deconstruction through a series of incredibly complex and well-orchestrated chemical events called chemical reactions," explained John P. Richard, Ph.D., UB professor of chemistry and conference organizer with Tina Amyes, Ph.D., UB adjunct professor of chemistry. "Each chemical reaction has a unique reaction mechanism and each reaction mechanism is a complex process that occurs at the atomic level," he said.

The conference will feature some of the world's leading researchers in reaction mechanisms. Don Hilvert, Ph.D., professor of organic chemistry at ETH Hoenggerberg, HCI in Zurich, will speak in a session entitled "Mechanism for Catalysis by Enzymes and Catalytic Antibodies." Anthony Kirby, Ph.D., of Cambridge University's Chemical Laboratory, will speak in a session entitled "Small Molecule Probes for the Mechanism of Enzyme Catalysis and Chemical Carcinogenesis."

The symposium is being hosted by the Department of Chemistry in UB's College of Arts and Sciences. The department features one of the nation's strongest core programs in reaction mechanisms; additional research into closely related areas is being conducted by investigators in the UB Department of Biological Sciences, also in the College of Arts and Sciences, and in the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry in the UB School of Medical and Biomedical Sciences.

As a participant in a session on "Catalysis of Biologically Important Reactions by Metal Ion Complexes: Catalyst Design and Mechanism," Janet Morrow, Ph.D., UB associate professor of chemistry, will discuss her work on the design of catalysts called synthetic nucleases for accelerating RNA cleavage. The design of synthetic nucleases is one step toward the development of a new class of drugs that interact with and inactivate specific RNA molecules.

Anthony Auerbach, Ph.D., UB professor of biophysics, will speak on "A single-molecule kinetic analysis of the acetylcholine receptor-channel gating transition state" in a session entitled "Combinatorial Chemistry, Molecular Recognition and Single Molecule Kinetics."

In addition to UB's Office of the Vice President for Research and the Department of Chemistry, conference sponsors include The Royal Society of Chemistry (England), the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society, Fujisawa Healthcare, Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline, USA.

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