From The Labs

Image of the Month: Art meets science to show tomogram of neuron-like cell and model of bacterial virus

Dr. Wah Chiu heads the lab of Electron Cryomicroscopy of Biological Nanomachines at Baylor College of Medicine. In Chiu’s lab, science not only resolves microscopic structures and relates them to their functional mechanisms, it also inspires artistic representations of those invisible worlds.

The Chiu lab is dedicated to determine 3-dimensional structures of biological nanomachines by electron cryomicroscopy and computer reconstruction. Their structural technique complements those of X ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The Chiu laboratory is uniquely equipped with four intermediate voltage electron cryomicroscopes and a supercomputer.

3-D electron tomogram of a neuron-like cell and an atomic model of a bacterial virus as determined with electron cryomicroscopy (Courtesy of Wei Dai and Corey Hryc, W. Chiu lab).

“Our laboratory has pioneered various experimental and computational methods in biological cryo-EM. We have determined cryo-EM structures of biological bundles, ion channels, viruses and chaperonins at unprecedented resolutions. Our group has recently achieved the capability of tracing calcium backbone of protein components in several large molecular nanomachines using single particle cryo-EM without the aid of crystallography. Many of our structural investigations have produced not only novel structural informatics but also insightful functional mechanisms on protein folding and virus infection, respectively,” said Chiu.

Watch this video for more information about Dr. Chiu’s research and laboratory.

Dr. Chiu is an elected member of the United States National Academy of Sciences since 2012.


Ana María Rodríguez, Ph.D.

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