A Report on the 1st EPS Peptide Highlights Virtual Symposium

CONFERENCE REPORT
1st EPS Peptide Highlights Virtual Symposium
Virtual event, 13 July 2021.

A year and a half of conferences postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic has left the scientific world hungry for scientific exchange. That is why a new digital format was recently launched: The EPS Peptide Highlights Virtual Symposium. The idea of this EPS symposium format was to give a stage to young talented peptide scientists and junior group leaders and to crown the meeting with a keynote lecture by an established principal investigator.

The 1st EPS Peptide Highlights Peptide Highlights, held on 13 July, focused on “Peptide Design and Engineering” and covered topics such as de novo peptide design, peptide systems chemistry, peptide materials and the design of peptidomimetics. Speakers were Aimee Boyle from Leiden University, Charalampos Pappas from Freiburg University and Lihi Adler-Abramovich from TelAviv University. The keynote lecture was given by Tom Grossmann from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The symposium was moderated by Franziska Thomas from the University of Heidelberg and was supported by Ruben Ragg and Luis Moroder the Editors-in-Chief of ChemBioChem and the Journal of Peptide Science.

The EPS Peptide Highlights Virtual Symposium opened with a welcome session by EPS Chair Norbert Sewald. Aimee Boyle, who holds an assistant professorship at Leiden University, gave the first talk of the afternoon. Her research focuses on the de novo design of metal-binding peptides and the influence of metal binding on peptide structure. In her talk entitled “Exploring Metal-Binding Selectivity within Helical Peptide Scaffolds”, she presented her latest research on a copper-binding three-helix bundle. Aimee Boyle’s talk was followed by Charalampos Pappas, who recently started his independent research at the University of Freiburg as a junior research group leader. His research group is integrated into the Cluster of Excellence Living, Adaptive and Energy-autonomous Materials Systems (livMatS). In his talk entitled “Peptide Systems Chemistry”, he presented, among other things, a systems chemistry approach that leads to a dynamic exchange of peptide bonds, enabling the construction of well-defined peptide oligomers depending on the respective environment. The third speaker was Lihi Adler-Abramovich. Her talk “Harnessing Nature to Create New Organic Materials For Tissue Regeneration” gave an excellent overview of her research on biomimetic materials, which includes peptide and peptide hybrid materials and their use in tissue engineering. Tom Grossmann is one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of peptido and proteomimetic design. In his excellent keynote lecture on “Peptido- and Proteomimetics: Designing Conformationally Constrained Protein Fragments”, which formed the conclusion of the virtual symposium, he presented, among other things, his research on bicyclic β-sheet mimetics that inhibit the Wnt signalling pathway.

The virtual meeting was very well attended with more than 200 people listening to the presentations and participating in lively discussions. This shows that such a meeting was greatly missed. We therefore hope that the EPS Peptide Highlights Virtual Symposium on “Peptide design and engineering” has kicked off a series of similar meetings that we can look forward to in the future.

Contributed by Franziska Thomas

Tom Grossmann presents his work on stacked peptides as inhibitors for the assembly of the NF-Y Transcription Factor.

Speakers and supporters of the 1st EPS Peptide Highlights Virtual Symposium (first row: Norbert Sewald, chair of the EPS; Ruben Ragg, editor-in-Chief of ChemBioChem, Franziska Thomas, Heidelberg University; second row: Tom Grossmann, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam; Charalampos Pappas, University of Freiburg; Aimee Boyle, University of Leiden; third row: Lihi Adler Abramovich, TelAviv University).

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