Inaugural Lecture : The (he)art of molecular sculpture to shape protein structure and function


Event details

Date 19.05.2022 17:1518:15  
Speaker Professor Bruno Correia, Institute of Bioengineering (IBI) , School of Engineering (STI)
Location Online
Category Inaugural lectures - Honorary Lecture
Event Language English
Abstract :
Proteins are involved in virtually every biological process within cells. Predicting interactions between proteins and other biomolecules solely based on structure remains a central challenge in biology. A high-level representation of protein structure, the molecular surface, displays patterns of chemical and geometric features that fingerprint a protein’s modes of interactions with other biomolecules. These structural fingerprints are difficult to grasp by visual analysis but can be learned from large-scale datasets.
I will discuss several methodologies developed in our group to capture geometrical and chemical features of protein molecules, which can be used to decode their biological roles and engineer novel functionalities non-existent in nature. 
Finally, I will describe our approach based on geometrical and chemical descriptors to design de novo protein-protein interactions, which may have important applications in the development of new protein-based drugs. Also, how this approach can be used to create vaccine immunogens and components to control cellular activities.
We anticipate that our novel frameworks for molecular representations will lead to improvements in our understanding of protein function and design.
Bruno Correia  has trained in world-renowned laboratories and institutions in the United States of America (University of Washington and The Scripps Research Institute). Very early in his scientific career he found out his fascination about protein structure and function. His PhD studies evolved in the direction of immunogen design and vaccine engineering which sparked his interest in the many needs and opportunities in vaccinology and translational research. His efforts resulted in an enlightening piece of work where for the first time, computationally designed immunogens elicited potent neutralizing antibodies. During my postdoctoral studies he developed novel chemoproteomics methods for the identification of protein-small molecule interaction sites in complex proteomes. In March 2015, he joined the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) – Switzerland as a tenure track assistant professor. The focus of his research group is to develop computational tools for protein design with particular emphasis in applying these strategies to immunoengineering (e.g. vaccine and cancer immunotherapy). He has been awarded several prestigious prizes and grants including the Protein Society Young investigator prize and the European Research Council Starting Grant. He has also been awarded a teaching prize in Life Sciences in 2019.  
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