ACS: Trifluoro talks

The skies are leaden and we’re set for several days of rain. But the weather isn’t going to deter the thousands of chemists who’ve congregated here in Boston for this fall’s national ACS meeting. The technical program is particularly good this time round, so I’ve had some difficulty cherry-picking which seminars to attend.  Read more

BOSS: Bottoms up!

Day three of the Belgian Organic Synthesis Symposium, and the heat wave continues. That means there have been plenty of excuses for conference attendees to drink Belgian beer, as the title of this blog implies. But we were also treated to a spectacular talk today by Kenichiro Itami, who presented (among other things) his latest research towards the bottom-up synthesis of carbon nanotubes.  Read more

ACS: Afternoon with the chain gang

I’m not sure why, but the polymer sessions at ACS meetings always seem to be in venues away from the main conference centre. What do polymer chemists make of this, I wonder? Do they feel that they’re being hived off for some reason? Or do they actually quite like having a venue more or less to themselves? If there are any polymer people out there that would like to comment on this, I’d love to know.  Read more

ACS: Beginning to see the light

Have you ever wondered how you would evacuate several thousand people from a hangar-sized conference centre in the event of a fire? Well, now I know, because all the fire alarms went off yesterday morning at the Washington Conference Center. I’m pleased to report that there was no mad panic (chemists, of all people, know how to respond to fire-related emergencies) but it has to be said that it does take a long time – the all-clear had been sounded before I made it to the exit. It turned out to be a false alarm, by the way.  Read more

ACS: Good to the last drop

Man, those physical chemists sure can throw a good chemical biology meeting. I finally got a chance to join in the ‘Functional Motions in Enzyme Catalysis’ session, and it was well worth the wait. Though each of the three talks was excellent, what was particularly interesting were some of the commonalities that emerged in the lectures and the subsequent panel discussion.  Read more

ACS: How much do you want?

Today I unexpectedly ventured far from my comfort zone to learn about ketosamines and 2-deoxyglucose in cancer treatment on one hand, and boronic acid-based sensors on the other, so I will not attempt to explain the details here as I would undoubtedly get many things wrong. Instead, I have an important question for you.  Read more

ACS: Cells are weird

So as part of my efforts to ‘seek out people I don’t know’, I went to a session yesterday in the colloid division about membranes and membrane proteins. Two talks by a grad student (Niña Hartman) and postdoc (Cheng-Han Yu) (see here for pictures) from Jay Groves’ lab were particularly outstanding. They are trying to figure out how TCR channels and other proteins at the immunological synapse are sorted into patterns. The general idea seems to be that clustering controls trafficking, with all kinds of fancy techniques used to provide evidence. The weirder thing to me is, how does the cell know where the synapse is supposed to be?? Something to ponder.  Read more