Modeling membranes, nano-magnets to control cell activity, and a gain-of-function protein behind a severe progressive brainstem disorder were hot topics at the 2013 ASCB Annual Meeting in New Orleans, December 14-18. This year, ASCB continued the tradition of weaving two scientific threads—biophysics and medicine—through many of the 254 science presentations.
Mathieu Coppey imagines using tiny magnets to move cells within living organisms. Coppey, a researcher at the Institut Curie in Paris, isn't envisioning a modern day version of "magnet therapy" touted a century ago by quack medical practitioners. Instead Coppey is using nanoparticle-size magnets to manipulate processes in cells.
Aside from Google Hangouts and Skype, it was the first time I'd been on video since my friend caught me singing to Spice Girls several years ago. I'd picked a high pressure venue for my return to video—the ASCB Annual Meeting in New Orleans. I was scheduled to give a short talk on Monday about scientists and social media. On Sunday though, I found myself in a small room in the convention center for a previously unscheduled coaching session on video with Susan Tomai, founder of Oratorio, a DC-based company offering media and presentation training.
Time-lapse movies of a cellular "heaven and hell," a dividing crane fly sperm cell undergoing, and the early development of muscle cells were recognized with the top three awards in the American Society for Cell Biology's Celldance "Really Useful" Cell Biology Video Contest for 2013. The special Public Outreach Award went to a group of cell biologists at the Dartmouth College, Geisel School of Medicine who danced their favorite cellular processes as The Cell Dance.