Eisenberg Distinguished Lecture Series honors pioneering biochemist

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The month of March marked the first Eisenberg lecture, recognizing Professor David Eisenberg, a leader in the field of biochemistry.       

By Helen Houldsworth (UCLA Molecular Biology Institute):

The series was made possible by a generous gift from UCLA alumni and long time supporters Ralph and Shirley Shapiro. The Shapiro’s gift honors the achievements of UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry Prof. David Eisenberg, HHMI investigator, member of the National Academy of Sciences and inaugural holder of the Paul D. Boyer Professorship in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. Annual honorees chosen by Prof. Eisenberg, will highlight excellence in Chemistry, Biochemistry and Biological Chemistry. 


Prof. David Eisenberg and Prof. Dame Carol Robinson.

On March 4th the inaugural award was presented to Professor Dame Carol Robinson, the first female Professor of Chemistry at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, UK, where she currently holds the Doctor Lees Professorship. A pioneer in the application of mass spectrometry, Prof. Robinson is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was awarded the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in 2013, for her services to science. 

Prof. Robinson’s lecture, “Membrane Proteins- The Lipid Connection” highlighted her group’s recent work on the application of mass spectrometry to the understanding of membrane protein/lipid interactions. 

“Initial studies monitored the addition of lipids and deduced the kinetic and thermodynamic effects of lipid binding to proteins. Recently however, we have focused on identifying lipids already present, explicitly in plugs, annular rings or cavities. Lipids that bind within these orifices to membrane proteins will have higher residence times than those in the bulk lipid bilayer and consequently can be quantified and characterized by mass spectrometry.”


From left: Piriya Wongkongkathep (Joseph Loo lab), Smriti Sangwan (Eisenberg lab), Prof. Dame Carol Robinson, Joe Capri (Radu lab), Pascal Krotee (Eisenberg lab), (not shown- Lucie Bergdoll (Abramson lab).

After the lecture, Prof. Robinson met with postdocs and graduate students working in the area of protein structure. Each trainee was challenged to distill their project into to five minute presentation, which generated a fast-paced and lively discussion!

Photos by Helen Houldsworth, UCLA Molecular Biology Institute.