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EMBO Practical Course: Methods for Studying Phase Separation in Biology

Date February 5, 2019 - February 13, 2019
Website http://meetings.embo.org/event/18-phase-separation
Organizers European Molecular Biology Organization
Venue Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics
Pfotenhauerstr. 108
Dresden, 01307 Germany

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The field of cell biology is in the midst of a revolution in the understanding of how cells are biochemically organized. In recent years, research has shown that liquid-liquid phase separation is a critical organizing principle for cells, improper regulation of which can lead to dysfunction and disease. There are many exciting open research questions in this field, and we aim to provide students with an essential toolkit for addressing them. This course will provide high quality instruction in the physical chemistry theories underlying biological phase separation, followed by hands on practical training in the assays and cutting-edge techniques used in this emerging field. Dresden is a hub for phase separation research, and in addition to our local experts in biophysics and cell biology, our speakers and instructors will also include global authorities on these topics. Following the course, participants should be able to apply their newly learned techniques to their own projects and research questions. We hope that this course will establish the best practices in the field of biological phase separation, which the students can spread more widely at their home and future institutions.


The practical work will begin with 4 days of topics essential to all students in the course: An interactive “bootcamp” covering the physical chemistry theories that underpin biological phase separation and assays for phase separation. The following 4 days will be split into two blocks of specialized modules, and students will choose one module from each block for hands on learning in smaller groups. The modules include practical training in: optical tweezers, coacevates, rheology, photobleaching, temperature manipulation, bioinformatics, and theory and protein expression.


The methods course will be followed by a two-day meeting on phase separation at the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, to which the students on the course are invited.