California State University, Long Beach
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Noted UC Berkeley Biological Physics Researcher to be Distinguished Visiting Lecturer

Carlos Bustamante, professor of molecular and cell biology, physics and chemistry at UC Berkeley, will be the distinguished visiting lecturer presented by the CSULB Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry on Thursday, Oct. 2.

Bustamante will present two lectures that are free and open to the public. The program is supported by Allergan Inc. At noon, he will speak on “Biological Physics One Molecule at a Time” in the University Student Union Long Beach Ballroom.

“One may ask, ‘Why bother studying molecules one at a time if we can do it many at a time?’ Bustamante said. “One answer to this question is that molecules behave quite differently as ensembles than as individual entities, and in a cell, more often than not, molecules are present in just a few copies. Thus, understanding the behavior of interactions among very few molecules is essential if we desire to understand how things occur inside a living cell. I plan to describe the genesis of these novel ideas and to discuss their importance in understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying many biochemical reactions. I will also illustrate how these novel techniques are allowing us to open venues into fundamental new ideas in biological physics.”

His second lecture at 4 p.m. in Lecture Hall 150 is titled “Grabbing the Cat by the Tail: Following the Packaging of DNA by a Tailed Phage One Virus at a Time.”

Among his research projects are how the bacteriophage phi29—a virus that infects bacteria—packages itself into the virus protein shell, or capsid. “As part of their infection cycle, many viruses must package their newly replicated genomes inside a protein capsid to ensure proper transport and delivery to other host cells,” he said. “This process is remarkable because entropic, electrostatic, and bending energies of the DNA must be overcome to package the DNA to near-crystalline density.”

Bustamante is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and also is director of the Advanced Microscopies Department at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He was nominated as America's Best in Time magazine (2001), received the Biological Physics Prize of the American Physical Society (2002), and accepted the Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics from the National Academy of Science (2004). He received a B.S. degree from Cayetano Heredia University and a master’s in biochemistry from San Marcos University, both in Lima, Peru, and a Ph.D. in biophysics from UC Berkeley. He has given more than 400 presentations and lectures and has published over 200 papers in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature, Science and Cell.

For more information on the CSULB lectures, contact George Saxon at 562/985-4942 or gsaxon@csulb.edu.