Cancer researchers to convene for symposium

April 21, 2010

Some of the best minds in the research area of membrane biology will convene on Purdue's West Lafayette campus next month for a Symposium on the Membrane Biology of Cancer.

Sponsored by the Purdue University Center for Basic and Applied Studies of Biological Membranes (PUBAMS) and the Oncological Sciences Center, with additional funding from the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research, the Discovery Park Distinguished Lecture Series, and the Department of Biological Sciences, the meeting will be held May 6-8 in Deans Auditorium (Room 241), Pfendler Hall.

Speakers include representatives from Purdue, along with Yale University, Arizona State University, University of California, San Diego, University of North Carolina, UCLA,  UC Berkeley, University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, New York University, University of Rhode Island, the University Medical Center of Groningen in the Netherlands, and Immunogen Inc.

"It's quite a distinguished group of speakers," says Bill Cramer, the Henry Koffler Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences and head of PUBAMS. "Because membrane biology, biochemistry, and biophysics are emerging areas of research, we're hoping to discuss and generate ideas that are relevant not only to membrane biology, but also to the cutting-edge areas of the molecular basis of cancer research."

Membrane biology is essential to the study of cancer because of the role that membranes perform within cells. "Membranes direct all the traffic within the cell, and allow the cell to accumulate its essential nutrients and transduce its required energy," Cramer explains. "The membrane proteins are the immigration officers at the borders -- all the traffic going back and forth, legal and illegal, is being handled by these proteins."

Thanks to recent technological advancements, a growing number of researchers are studying how defects in membrane proteins can lead to cancer and other diseases.

Cramer says it's forward-thinking for the University to be sponsoring a seminar on this burgeoning area of research: "It's really a sign of intellectual awareness in the cancer center, the participating departments and centers to put this symposium together."