Scientific Seminars

Below is a list of upcoming seminars at the LMB aimed at a general scientific audience and open to individuals throughout Cambridge. If you are not at the LMB and wish to attend a seminar, please contact Nikki Dominguez.

The LMB hosts ‘The LMB Seminar Series’, where 1-2 leading scientists per month are invited to speak throughout the year. Four of these lectures are named in honour of LMB Nobel Laureates Max Perutz, Francis Crick, César Milstein and John Kendrew, given by eminent scientists from around the world. The LMB Seminar talks and LMB Named Seminar talks are advertised widely throughout the local area and are open to all.

2017 LMB Seminar Series speakers (click to expand)

  • John McCutcheon – 11am, 3rd November
  • Erin O’Shea – 11am, 15th November (Perutz Lecture)
  • Franck Perez – 4pm, 28th November
  • Christine Holt – 11am, 4th December
  • Michelle Dunstone – 12th December


A full list of LMB Named Lectures to date can be found here.

Details of other local seminars can be found here

  • Capturing the ambiguous behaviour of proteins from sequence-based predictions.

    Speaker: Doctor Wim Branken, VUB, Brussels
    Host: Madan Babu Mohan/Rita Pancsa, MRC LMB
    Date: 20/10/2017 at 2:00pm in the Klug Seminar Room, Level 2, LMB.

    Further information

    Protein conformations are not fixed in time, and conformational transitions are often essential for protein functionality. In addition, many of the as yet uncharacterised proteins in the ‘dark proteome’ likely exhibit conformational behaviour that cannot be captured by discrete conformational states. With our work, we aim to create a more probabilistic picture of protein behaviour that requires only their sequence. We predict per-amino acid residue biophysical characteristics such as dynamics, conformation and capacity for early folding, as influenced by the local sequence environment. The approach is applicable to any protein, and can be further combined with evolutionary information in an attempt to better understand the capacity proteins have for ambiguous and complex behaviour.

  • Solving inverse problems using methods from deep learning: An application in tomography

    Speaker: Doctor Ozan Oktem, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
    Host: Sjors Scheres, MRC LMB
    Date: 25/10/2017 at 2:00pm in the Klug Seminar Room, Level 2, LMB.

    Further information

    Research in theory and algorithms for solving (ill-posed) inverse problem has progressed rapidly during the last three decades. Current state-of-the-art methods for reconstruction are based on solving an optimisation problem where the need to fit measured data is balanced against avoiding overfitting by using a priori information. These generic, yet adaptable, approaches
    provide the best results in terms of quality when they are properly set-up,
    e.g. as shown in some stunning applications of compressed sensing. On the other hand, such variational approaches come with three major drawbacks: (1) computational burden, (2) inability to account for more complex task related priori information, and (3) need for proper weighting to avoid overfitting. Meanwhile, a series of papers during the early 2000s suggested the successful application of convolutional neural networks, leading to state-of-the-art results in practically any assigned image processing task. Key aspects was the use of many network layers, a huge amount of training data, GPU accelerated implementations, and wise optimisation algorithms. It was clearly tempting to use such techniques also for reconstruction, but early attempts proved futile.

    The talk will outline a recently developed approach that renders (deep) convolutional neural networks applicable for solving a wide range of inverse problems, which in this talk will be image reconstruction in medical tomography. A key element is to embed physics models for the data and noise onto the neural network. An other is the possibility to account for complex tasks. The resulting approach outperforms current state-of-the-art in terms of quality, while it also addresses all three drawbacks that comes with variational methods. Furthermore, the amount of training data and network size can be kept surprisingly small.

  • Genomic and cellular integration of bacterial endosymbionts into host cells

    Speaker: John McCutcheon
    Host: Lori Passmore and Venki Ramakrishnan
    Date: 03/11/2017 at 11:00am in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

  • The RNA synthesis machine of influenza virus and innate immune sensing

    Speaker: Ervin Fodor, Oxford university
    Host: Immunology and Medicine Seminar
    Date: 03/11/2017 at 1:00pm in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

  • Max Perutz Lecture- On clocks and tuners: cyanobacterial strategies to thrive in a dynamic environment

    Speaker: Erin O Shea, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
    Host: Liz Miller
    Date: 15/11/2017 at 11:00am in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

    Further information

    Organisms across all kingdoms of life have evolved circadian clocks to temporally align biological activities with diurnal changes in the environment. In the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus the core oscillator is comprised of the proteins KaiA, KaiB, and KaiC that generate oscillations in the phosphorylation state of KaiC. Time encoded in the phosphorylation state of KaiC is transmitted to the master transcriptional regulator RpaA to generate changes in circadian gene expression. Although the circadian output does not affect growth in constant light conditions, it has substantial effects on fitness in cycling conditions when dark and light periods alternate. In my talk I will describe our findings that reveal why the circadian system is important under cycling conditions and how cellular physiology is altered in these conditions.

  • Regulation of DNA replication by checkpoint kinases after damage and during vertebrate development

    Speaker: Doctor Phil Zegerman, Gurdon Institute Cambridge
    Host: Lori Passmore, MRC LMB
    Date: 17/11/2017 at 11:00am in the Klug Seminar Room, Level 2, LMB.

    Further information

    DNA damage or replication stress during S-phase activates a checkpoint that executes multiple responses, including the inhibition of replication initiation and the stabilisation of replication forks. This checkpoint is essential for coordinating genome duplication and cell survival in the face of genotoxins and is a key target of existing and emerging chemotherapies. Significantly this checkpoint is also activated during normal development across many metazoa. Despite this, the functions of the S-phase checkpoint after DNA damage and during development are poorly understood. Here I will present a unifying mechanism to explain how the checkpoint kinase Rad53 is targeted to both replication initiation complexes and DNA replication forks in the budding yeast S.cerevisiae. In addition, I will describe our work in Xenopus laevis demonstrating that developmental activation of the checkpoint kinase Chk1 results in the degradation of a key limiting replication initiation factor Drf1 at the mid-blastula transition (MBT). Inhibition of Drf1 is a critical function of Chk1 at the blastula to gastrula stage of development and is the primary mechanism by which Chk1 blocks cell cycle progression in the early embryo. Together these studies uncover mechanisms that target the checkpoint kinases to their substrates and provide novel essential functions for these kinases in vivo.

  • Functional circuit architecture underlying parental behaviour

    Speaker: Johannes Kohl, HHMI, Harvard University/Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, London
    Host: Greg Jefferis, MRC LMB
    Date: 23/11/2017 at 10:00am in the Sanger Seminar Room, Level 3, LMB.

    Further information

    Parental behaviour is essential for the survival and wellbeing of mammalian offspring. Although lesion studies and pharmacological manipulations have identified individual brain regions involved in the control of parenting, we lack a circuit-level understanding of how distinct components of parental care, or indeed, of any social behaviour, are orchestrated. Here we investigate how a population of genetically specified hypothalamic neurons coordinates the motor, motivational, hormonal and social components of parenting. Using viral tracing and brain-wide activity mapping, we show that Galanin-expressing neurons in the murine medial preoptic area (MPOAGal) integrate inputs from a large number of brain areas, whose activation depends on the animal’s sex and reproductive state. Subsets of MPOAGal neurons project to non-overlapping target areas, hence forming discrete neuronal pools defined by their projection sites. While the population as a whole is active during all episodes of parental behaviour, individual MPOAGal pools are tuned to characteristic aspects of parenting. Remarkably, optogenetic stimulation of individual MPOAGal projections mirrors this specificity: while activation of MPOAGal projections to the periaqueductal grey (PAG) elicits motor aspects of parental behaviour, activation of ventral tegmental area (VTA)-projecting MPOAGal neurons increases the motivation to interact with pups. In contrast, stimulation of medial amygdala (MeA)-projections does not directly affect parenting but rather inhibits competing social interactions. This functional organization, reminiscent of the control of motor sequences by pools of spinal cord neurons, provides a new model of how discrete elements of a social behaviour are generated at the circuit level.

  • LMB Seminar Series- Title to follow

    Speaker: Franck Perez
    Host: Emanuel Derivery and Sean Munro
    Date: 28/11/2017 at 2:00pm in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

  • LMB Seminar Series- Title to follow

    Speaker: Christine Holt
    Host: Mo Moffatteh and Bill Schafer
    Date: 04/12/2017 at 11:00am in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

  • Neural Mechanisms for Dynamic Acoustic Communication in Flies

    Speaker: Mala Murthy, Associate Professor, Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University
    Host: Greg Jefferis
    Date: 07/12/2017 at 10:30am in the Sanger Seminar Room, Level 3, LMB.

    Further information

    Social interactions require continually adjusting behavior in response to sensory feedback. For example, when having a conversation, sensory cues from our partner (e.g., sounds or facial expressions) affect our speech patterns in real time. Our speech signals, in turn, are the sensory cues that modify our partner’s actions. What are the underlying computations and neural mechanisms that govern these interactions? To address these questions, my lab studies the acoustic communication system of Drosophila. To our advantage, the fly nervous system is relatively simple, with a wealth of genetic tools to interrogate it. Importantly, Drosophila acoustic behaviors are highly quantifiable and robust. During courtship, males produce time-varying songs via wing vibration, while females arbitrate mating decisions. We discovered that, rather than being a stereotyped fixed action sequence, male song structure and intensity are continually sculpted by interactions with the female, over timescales ranging from tens of milliseconds to minutes – and we are mapping the underlying circuits and computations. We have also developed methods to relate song representations in the female brain to changes in her behavior, across multiple timescales. Our focus on natural acoustic signals, either as the output of the male nervous system or as the input to the female nervous system, provides a powerful, quantitative handle for studying the basic building blocks of communication.

  • Kendrew Lecture- Title to follow

    Speaker: Xiaowei Zhuang
    Host: Chris Russo
    Date: 15/01/2018 at 4:00pm in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

  • The 6th Annual Sir John Walker Lecture

    Speaker: Professor Vamsi Mootha
    Host: MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit
    Date: 22/02/2018 at 4:30pm in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

  • LMB Seminar Series- Title to follow

    Speaker: Lukas Kapitein
    Host: Simon Bullock and Andrew Carter
    Date: 15/03/2018 at 4:00pm in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

  • LMB Seminar Series- Title to follow

    Speaker: Titia De Lange Rockefeller
    Host: KJ Patel
    Date: 23/05/2018 at 11:00am in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

  • LMB Seminar Series- Title to follow

    Speaker: Steve Harrison
    Host: Yorgo Modis
    Date: 28/06/2018 at 4:00pm in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.

  • Perutz Lecture- Title to follow

    Speaker: Eric Gouaux
    Host: Chris Tate
    Date: 29/11/2018 at 4:00pm in the Max Perutz Lecture Theatre, LMB.