Aug. 18  —  Aug. 19, 2022

Van Andel Institute Symposium on Structural Biology

The 2022 Van Andel Institute Symposium on Structural Biology will feature presentations from high-caliber speakers in two structural biology areas: neurobiology and neurodegenerative disease, and infection and immunity.

For questions, please reach out to Courtney Zirkle.

Assistant Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute

Steve Brohawn is an Assistant Professor of Neurobiology at the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. Research in the Brohawn laboratory is focused on understanding the basis of sensory transduction and electrical signaling in the nervous system. To this end, the Brohawn lab uses structural, electrophysiological, imaging, and pharmacological approaches to investigate membrane protein ion channels and transporters. Steve is a New York Stem Cell Foundation – Robertson Neuroscience Investigator and his work has been recognized with a Sloan Research Fellowship, a McKnight Neuroscience Scholar Award, a Klingenstein-Simons Research Fellowship, a Rose Hill Innovator Award, and an NIH New Innovator Award. Prior to starting his laboratory in 2016, Steve was a Helen Hay Whitney Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Roderick MacKinnon’s lab at the Rockefeller University from 2010 to 2015 where he studied ion channels that sense mechanical force. Steve received his PhD in Biology in 2010 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his work with Dr. Thomas Schwartz on the structure and function of the nuclear pore complex. He received his B.S. from the University of Delaware in 2004 where he worked with Dr. Colin Thorpe on the enzymology of oxidative protein folding. 

Joseph T. Wearn, MD, University Professor in Medicine
Director, Cryo Electron Microscopy Core
Director, Cleveland Center for Membrane and Structural Biology
Professor, Department of Physiology and Biophysics
Case Western Reserve University

Sudha Chakrapani received her Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai India in 1999. She then moved to the U.S. for her doctoral work with Dr. Tony Auerbach at the University at Buffalo on single-channel kinetic studies of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. She then went on to do her postdoctoral research with Dr. Eduardo Perozo at University of Virginia, and moved with the lab to University of Chicago. Here, she was trained in EPR spectroscopy and X-ray crystallography, and studied gating mechanisms in potassium channels and voltage-gated sodium channels. In 2010, Sudha started her independent position at Case Western Reserve University.

The overarching research goals of the Chakrapani lab are to develop a molecular-level understanding of ion-transport phenomenon across cellular membranes that occurs under normal and pathophysiological conditions. A major focus is on ion channels that mediate fast synaptic transmission at the neuronal and neuromuscular junction; namely, ligand- and voltage- gated ion channels. These channels play a central role in cellular excitability, and dysfunctions are associated with a number of neurological disorders such as epilepsy, Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic inflammatory pain. Consequently, these channels are important clinical targets.The Chakrapani lab uses a combination of cutting-edge multidisciplinary tools that includes single-particle Cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography, EPR spectroscopy, and patch-clamp electrophysiology Findings from these techniques complement each other and allow an atomic-level description of how structure and dynamics govern ion channel function.

Jack Fishman Professor
The Rockefeller University

Dr. Seth Darst obtained a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Stanford University. During postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Dr. Roger Kornberg at Stanford, he developed his interest in structural biology and transcription. He heads a laboratory at The Rockefeller University (New York), where he has used biochemical and biophysical approaches to study the bacterial transcription cycle. More recently his laboratory, along with his partner and scientific colleague Dr. Elizabeth Campbell, has used structural approaches to study RNA synthesis and processing in SARS-CoV-2. He is currently a Professor of Molecular Biophysics and was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2008. He was awarded the Gregori Aminoff Prize from the Swedish Royal Academy in 2021.

Professor of Biochemistry and Structural Biology, Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics
Cornell University

Dr. Ailong Ke received his B.S. degree from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1995, and Ph.D. in Biophysics with Cynthia Wolberger from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2002. After a three-year post-doctoral training with Nobel Laureate Dr. Jennifer Doudna at UC Berkeley, he started his independent career as an Assistant Professor at Cornell University in 2005 and rose to Full Professor in 2017. Since independence, Dr. Ke has been working in the areas of RNA 3’-end processing and degradation, metabolite-sensing riboswitches, and more recently, the CRISPR-Cas immunity system. Dr. Ke also strives to apply the mechanistic understanding to genome editing applications in eukaryotic cells. Dr. Ke holds key patents in CRISPR-Cas3 and related fields. Dr. Ke has published over 50 papers in journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, Molecular cell, NSMB, PNAS, and RNA. Dr. Ke received the Cornell Provost Research Innovation award in 2018 and RNA society Mid-Career award in 2019.

Professor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, and Department of Molecular Biology, School of Biological Sciences
University of California, San Diego

Andres E. Leschziner, PhD, is a Professor in the Departments of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, and of Molecular Biology, School of Biological Sciences, at the University of California, San Diego. He is interested in understanding the role of macromolecular dynamics in biological function. His research group uses cryo-electron microscopy to obtain structural information and biophysical, biochemical and cell biological techniques to test functional hypotheses. The group has had a long interest in cytoskeletal motors and ATP-dependent nucleosome remodeling complexes and began working on LRRK2 a few years ago.


Dr. Leschziner received a BSc in Biology from McGill University and a PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University. After postdoctoral training as a Jane Coffin Childs fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, Dr. Leschziner joined the department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, where he was Assistant and Associate Professor. In 2015, Dr. Leschziner was recruited to UCSD.

Professor, University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute and Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

During the course of Dr. Ohi’s research career her interest has focused on understanding how proteins interact and function as macromolecular machines. As a graduate student she trained in Dr. Kathy Gould’s laboratory at Vanderbilt University, learning how to use the fission yeast S. pombe as a model system for functionally characterizing and purifying large complexes, such as the spliceosome. As a post-doctoral fellow, she joined Dr. Tom Walz’s laboratory at Harvard Medical School, learning how to use single particle cryo-EM to determine structures of large complexes. As an independent investigator, she has developed a research program with the capability of combining the necessary multi-disciplinary research tools and methods to embark on structural and functional studies of biologically interesting machines. Her lab has most recently focused on determining the structures of complexes that span membranes and/or alter membrane architecture. Her lab continues to take an integrative approach that allows them to address questions from biophysical, biochemical, and in vivo perspectives.

Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Michigan State University

Viruses infect their respective hosts efficiently through a regulated process of recognizing highly specific receptors and subsequently transferring genomic material across cell membrane barriers. Dr. Parent’s research is aimed at understanding the underlying mechanisms that control virus infection. She uses model systems (bacteriophages and giant viruses) to describe mechanisms critical for virus infection by studying receptor recognition and the viral molecular machinery that controls genome translocation into cells. Her work is a combination of biochemistry, experimental evolution, biophysics and structural biology including cryo-electron microscopy.


Dr. Parent established her independent laboratory at Michigan State University in 2013. Since then, she has published manuscripts, secured funding from the National Institutes of Health, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (the Marion Milligan Mason Award), the National Science Foundation (CAREER award), and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund (PATH award), as well as established a track record as a researcher, educator, and mentor. Dr. Parent has established the first cryo-EM facility at MSU and is the Director of this core facility. Dr. Parent has been recognized with the ASM Young Investigator award and the JK Billman, Jr., M.D. Endowed Research Professorship.

Robert F. Bennett Professor of Neurological Research and Professor of Physiology and Biophysics
Case Western Reserve University

Dr. Witold K. Surewicz received a Ph.D. degree in Biophysics from the University of Lodz, Poland. After a postdoctoral training at McMaster University, Canada (laboratory of Dr. R. Epand) he worked for several years as a Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada (Ottawa, Ontario). In 1994 he relocated to the U.S.A., first to the University of Missouri (Columbia) and then to Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, Ohio), where he is currently a Robert F Bennett Professor of Neurological Research and Professor of Physiology and Biophysics. Dr. Surewicz’s research interests are in the area of prion diseases and other neurodegenerative disorders associated with protein misfolding, and structural/biophysical properties of amyloid fibrils and the mechanisms of their propagation. He has published over 180 research papers, and has served on editorial boards of a number of journals, including Journal of Biological Chemistry, Biochemistry, Prion, and Pathogens.

Asa and Patricia Springer Professor

Harvard Medical School

Dr. Hao Wu is Asa and Patricia Springer Professor at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and an elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Wu laboratory of structural and mechanistic immunology focuses on innate immune pathways, in particular the inflammasome pathway. Her critical research provides new opportunities for drug targeting by therapeutic intervention of supramolecular complexes in cellular innate immunity. The Wu lab utilizes cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography, drug screening, and cellular imaging to delineate the assembly of supramolecular complexes and their intervention in health and disease processes.

Dr. Wu received her pre-medical training at Peking University from 1982 to 1985 and studied Medicine at Peking Union Medical College from 1985 to 1988.  She obtained her Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from Purdue University in 1992, working in the laboratory of Professor Michael Rossmann.  After performing postdoctoral training at Columbia University in the laboratory of Professor Wayne Hendrickson, she became an Assistant Professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in 1997 and was promoted to Professor in 2003.  In 2012, Dr. Wu moved to Harvard Medical School as the Asa and Patricia Springer Professor in the Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School, and Senior Investigator in the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital. She serves on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Cancer Research Institute and the Editorial Board of Science and Cell.

Professor, Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics; Department of Biological Chemistry
University of Michigan

Dr. Yang Zhang is a professor in Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics and Department of Biological Chemistry at the University of Michigan. The research interest of the Zhang Lab is in protein folding and structure prediction, and protein design and engineering. The I-TASSER algorithm developed in his lab was ranked as the No 1 method for automated protein structure prediction in the community-wide CASP experiments in the last decades (2006-2020). Dr. Zhang is the recipient of the ASBMB DeLano Award, the Alfred P Sloan Award, the US National Science Foundation Career Award, and the UM Basic Science Research Award, and was selected as the Thomson Reuters/Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher.

The Van Andel Institute Symposium on Structural Biology will bring together scientists from across the U.S. to discuss the latest techniques and breakthroughs in structural biology. For information on how to become a sponsor for the symposium, please contact Courtney Zirkle at [email protected].

When is the Symposium on Structural Biology? How much does it cost?
The Symposium on Structural Biology will take place from August 18-19, 2022. Registration opens May 18 and closes August 9, 2022, and costs $50 for students and postdoctoral fellows and $75 for non-students.

Can I register a group?
Yes! The registration form allows one person to register and pay for a group. Once registration is complete for one person, please click “Add person” in the bottom right corner of the form. Input the second person’s information and continue in this manner until all parties in the group are registered. The system will then charge a total cost for the group.

Will late registrations be accepted?
Unfortunately, walk-in registrations will not be accepted. All attendees must register online by August 9, 2022.

What if I need accommodations?
Please contact Courtney Zirkle to discuss any accommodation needs.

How do I become a sponsor?
Please contact Courtney Zirkle for more information on sponsorship opportunities.

What is the refund policy?
Refund requests must be made in writing by Friday, August 12, 2022. After August 12, refund requests will not be honored. If you cannot attend, a substitute may attend in your place. The name and email address of the replacement attendee must be emailed to Courtney Zirkle prior to August 12, 2022. If you do not attend the program and do not submit a written refund request, the Symposium on Structural Biology will retain all registration fees. Email all cancellation requests/substitutions/ registration questions to Courtney Zirkle; requests will be addressed within three business days. In the event the Symposium on Structural Biology is canceled, full refunds will be given to all registrants.

Xiaodong Cheng, Ph.D. — Keynote
Francisco Asturias, Ph.D.
James Berger, Ph.D.
Yuan He, Ph.D.
Xiaochun Li, Ph.D.
Steve Long, Ph.D.
Alfonso Mondragón, Ph.D.
Eunyong Park, Ph.D.
Bryan Roth, Ph.D.
Alexander (Sasha) Sobolevsky, Ph.D.
Jikui Song, Ph.D.

2018 (Cryo-EM at VAI workshop)
Huilin Li, Ph.D.
Jun Liu, Ph.D.
Steven Ludtke, Ph.D.
Xing Meng, Ph.D.
Gongpu Zhao, Ph.D.
Erica Gobrogge, Ph.D.
Wei Lü, Ph.D.

2017 (A Celebration of the Cryo-EM Revolution)
Joachim Frank, Ph.D. — Keynote
Mike Shafer
Tamir Gonen, Ph.D., MRSNZ
Sriram Subramaniam, Ph.D.
Eric Gouaux, Ph.D.
Michael G. Rossmann, Ph.D.
Peijun Zhang, Ph.D.
Wah Chiu, Ph.D.
Kenneth Downing, Ph.D.
Z. Hong Zhou, Ph.D.

Chair and Professor, Department of Structural Biology
Van Andel Institute

Dr. Huilin Li earned his Ph.D. in electron crystallography from the University of Science and Technology Beijing. He completed postdoctoral research at Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory, where he studied membrane channels and microtubule structure by cryo-EM. From there, he joined Brookhaven National Laboratory as an associate biophysicist, rising through the ranks to attain a tenured position. In 2010, he joined Stony Brook University as a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. He is now a professor and chair of Van Andel Institute’s Department of Structural Biology. Dr. Li’s lab studies the structural basis of DNA replication, the mycobacterial proteasome system, and several membrane-embedded protein glycosyltransferases.

Associate Professor, Department of Structural Biology
Van Andel Institute

Dr. Juan Du earned her Diploma degree in chemistry from University of Goettingen and a Ph.D. from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Freiburg in Germany. While there, she determined the structure of a key enzyme required for gluconeogenesis and revealed new facets of the membrane transporter FocA. In 2012, she joined the Gouaux Lab at Oregon Health & Science University’s Vollum Institute, where her work focused on characterizing excitatory triheteromeric NMDA receptor as well as inhibitory glycine receptor using cryo-EM and electrophysiology. She is now an assistant professor in the Department of Structural Biology at Van Andel Institute. Dr. Du’s lab studies the mechanism and pharmacology of excitatory neuronal receptors, which are critically involved in numerous neurological diseases.

Associate Professor, Department of Structural Biology
Van Andel Institute

Dr. Wei Lü received his diploma in biology from the University of Göttingen, and his Ph.D. from the University of Freiburg, in the laboratory of Dr. Oliver Einsle. He then joined the laboratory of Dr. Eric Gouaux (HHMI/Vollum Institute) as a postdoctoral fellow. In 2017, he became an assistant professor in Van Andel Institute’s Department of Structural Biology. Dr. Lü’s studies the structure and function of membrane proteins underlying chemo- and temperature sensations.

Assistant Professor, Department of Structural Biology
Van Andel Institute

Dr. Evan Worden leverages breakthrough technologies such as cryo-EM to investigate the epigenetic mechanisms underpinning cancer, with a focus on posttranslational histone modifications. He earned his Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from University of California, Berkeley, under the mentorship of Dr. Andreas Martin. Dr. Worden’s graduate work explored protein degradation by the 26S proteasome and answered long-standing questions about the mechanisms that link ubiquitin removal and protein degradation. From there, he joined the lab of Dr. Cynthia Wolberger at Johns Hopkins University as a postdoctoral fellow. Using cryo-EM and biochemical approaches, he elucidated novel functions of Dot1L and COMPASS, two histone lysine methyltransferases that play key roles in gene transcription. In 2021, Dr. Worden joined Van Andel Institute’s Department of Structural Biology as an assistant professor.

He has earned numerous prestigious awards for his research, including a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Paul Ehrlich Award for Postdoctoral Research from Johns Hopkins, and the Nicholas Cozzarelli Prize for best Ph.D. thesis from University of California, Berkeley. In 2020, he was a finalist for the Damon Runyon Dale Frey Award.


Van Andel Institute (VAI) began with a vision: to improve human health.

Founded by the Van Andel family in 1996, the Institute is now home to more than 400 scientists, educators and support staff – each one of us deeply connected to the work we do and driven by an urgent desire to make a difference.

Every day, we collaborate at the forefront of fundamental and translational science in pursuit of breakthrough treatment strategies for cancer, Parkinson’s and other diseases. Through shared values and an entrepreneurial spirit, we spark innovation to multiply the impact of discovery and answer critical questions for our world.

We believe that hope for tomorrow lives in the students of today. Our Graduate School offers a rigorous, research-intensive Ph.D. program that develops leaders in molecular and cellular biology. Our inquiry-based approaches for K–12 education help create classrooms where curiosity, creativity and critical thinking thrive.

A hub for ideas and advancements, the Institute is fueled by a community of bright minds who share a relentless curiosity and a deep commitment to make the world a better place.

At Van Andel Institute, we do more than dream about improving human health. We strive to make it a reality every day.


Van Andel Institute’s David Van Andel Advanced Cryo-Electron Microscopy Suite harnesses revolutionary technology to visualize some of life’s smallest—yet most vital—components, including cells and molecular complexes, such as proteins. The suite encompasses a suite of state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopes (cryo-EM), which are supported by expert staff and a robust high-performance computing cluster with extensive cloud capabilities.

The heart of the suite is the Titan Krios transmission electron microscope, which allows scientists to obtain high-resolution images of cells and molecules in their natural state. The Core also houses a Talos Arctica, often considered the “workhorse” of cryo-EM, and a Tecnai Spirit G2 BioTWIN, which is used for preliminary screening of samples.


Consistently named to top 10 lists, Grand Rapids was included in the New York Times’s list of top places to visit in 2016, a distinction it also received in 2015 from Groupon and from Lonely Planet in 2014. It has received dozens of accolades in recent years including being named as the Best Beer Town by USA Today. The city is a thriving hub of art and culture, boasting numerous museums and theaters, and is home to a host of restaurants, brew pubs, and bistros that have something for everyone.

Learn more at www.experiencegr.com.

Event Details

Venue: Van Andel Institute 333 Bostwick Ave. NE Grand Rapids

Contact Info:

Email: Courtney Zirkle