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Cell Biology of Metals Session

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Sabeeha Merchant

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Sabeeha Merchant

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
UCLA

 Sabeeha Merchant

Sabeeha Merchant is Director of the Institute for Genomics and Proteomics and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA. She earned degrees in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and undertook post-doctoral studies at Harvard University prior to her professorial appointment. Merchant’s discoveries have influenced scholarly thought in diverse disciplines, from biogeochemistry and biological oceanography to photosynthesis, plant biochemistry and human nutrition. Merchant formulated the concepts of elemental sparing and recycling, which operate to sustain life in situations of deficiency by prioritized distribution of the limiting resource. Her concept of “reduce and re-use” has now been demonstrated across the kingdom of life. Merchant is recognized separately in plant biology for discoveries relating to chloroplast biogenesis and contributions to the genomics of algae. Merchant has served on advisory boards in government, academia and industry and is presently Editor of the Annual Reviews of Plant Biology and Editor-in-Chief of The Plant Cell. Her accomplishments are recognized by a Guggenheim fellowship, major awards from the American Society of Plant Biologists, the National Academy of Sciences and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Leopoldina.

Learn more about Dr. Merchant and her group here

Nigel Robinson

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Nigel Robinson

Professor of Biology
Durham University

 Nigel Robinson

About a half of the reactions of life require metals and Nigel Robinson has contributed towards understanding how living cells help to direct these vital inorganic elements to the correct protein locations.  He has studied the cell biology of metals for more than three decades, mostly in microbes and plants, and co-established (with Dennis Winge, Utah) the Gordon Research Conference series on the Cell Biology of Metals. He directs the BBSRC Network in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (IBBE) on “Metals in Biology: Elements of IBBE”. Robinson’s group cloned the ferric-chelate reductases needed for iron-uptake by plants (non-grass species) (Nature 1999 397: 694-697). Using bacterial models he found that two enzymes with similar metal-binding sites, similar cupin-folds and similar metal-affinities acquire different metals, copper and manganese, by folding in different cellular compartments (Nature 2008 455: 1138-1142). These observations demonstrate that metal availability at the site of protein folding dominates metal-protein speciation in vivo. His research group characterised multiple components of the cellular machinery that sustains these vital metal-availabilities including DNA-binding, metal-sensors (reviewed in Nature 2009 460: 823-830), metal storage-proteins (PNAS 2001 98: 9593-9598), and copper metallochaperones engaged in metal-delivery (PNAS 2012 109: 95-100; reviewed in Ann Rev Biochem 2010 79: 537-562). The group recently discovered that the set point of a metal sensor is tightly-tuned to, but does not govern, the buffered intracellular concentration of its cognate metal (Nature Chemical Biology 2017 13: 409-414), providing a “window” through which the free energies of metals can be viewed inside cells.

Learn more about Dr. Robinson  here.

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