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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2004 / 03 

Science of mad-cow disease among symposium topics at Virginia Tech

March 3, 2004

A symposium sponsored by the College of Science at Virginia Tech will include a talk on the science behind mad-cow disease.

The symposium itself, "Biological systems and soft materials: Future directions in statistical physics," will explore the interface of statistical physics, biology, and chemistry.

The speaker on prions, which are believed to play a key role in mad-cow disease, is Susan W. Liebman of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who will discuss "Prion-prion interactions in yeast." Liebman speaks at 9:45-10:30 a.m. Sunday, March 7. There will be a coffee break right after her presentation.

Another speaker of note is Ching-Hwa Kiang of the Department of Physics at Rice University, who works with assemblies of DNA-based nanostructures--gold particles linked with DNA fragments--which may serve as sensors for different kinds of DNA. That talk is at 9 a.m. Sunday, March 7.

One Virginia Tech alumna, Leah Shaw, now in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Physics at Cornell, is an invited speaker. She is working on a genome-wide statistical model for protein synthesis. She will talk at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 6.

The symposium will be held in Lecture Hall 130 in the new chemistry/physics building. It is sponsored by the Department of Physics at Virginia Tech and supported by the National Science Foundation, Virginia Tech, and the Institute of Physics’s new journal Physical Biology.
For information about the program, go to Registrations can be completed at the conference March 6.