Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting – Day 4

The day started with the Aaron Ciechenover’s lecture. He talked about his hobby on personal medication. In the drug design he mentioned aspirin as the most powerful and successful drug that human beings had ever made. The others in the top three was penicillin and statin. I realized that I have not heard the story of penicillin before. Alexander Fleming prepared a bacteria culture on a petri dish but then he made two mistakes: he did not covered the dish and left at room temperature. While he had been away, a mold had grown on the dish. That in itself was not strange. However, this particular mold seemed to have killed the Staphylococcus aureus that had been growing in the dish. Fleming realized that this mold had potential. So the penicillin is discovered. As far as I know the original petri dish is still exhibited at the museum of history of science in Oxford.

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Following Erwin Neher, my man Jean-Marie Lehn take the stage. I loved the way he presents the importance of supramolecular chemistry and glory of chemistry in general. In one of his slides, he said “the essence of chemistry is not just to discover but to create novel expressions of complex matter. The book of chemistry is not just to be read. It is to be written. The score of chemistry is not just to be played. It is to be composed”. He calls chemistry a promethean science. And I totally agree with him. He started to work on dynamic combinatorial chemistry (DCC) and complex systems. Hearing that excited me because at the very beginning of september I am starting my PhD at University of Groningen in the Sijbren Otto‘s group to work with self-replicating peptides using DCC.

In the second session, Ada Yonath gave an amazing talk. She got the nobel prize in chemistry due to her contributions to the discovery of structure of the RNA. The talk was highly inspiring. She did not bother us with giving so many details but the essence of her work. After she showed the animation below where you can see an RNA in action, “20 years of research in 2 minutes!” she said and applauded for minutes. She also mentioned being a woman scientist she did not well with her marriage but she showed two successful examples from her lab.

Than Rudolph Marcus gave the lecture on his research. In contrast to Ada, he lost in the details. Following him, Schrock and Grubbs delivered lectures and They were quite good in presenting their work. It was very good to listen them one after the other. Their work is really complementary. But two hour of non-stop lectures got overwhelming more and more as the days passes. Even the presenters are nobel laureates.

In the afternoon, I attended the Jean-Marie Lehn’s young researcher discussion session. In 1.5 hours, I had chance to ask my questions on the recent developments and the future of the supramolecular chemistry. He started to work on more complex systems like dynamic combinatorial systems as I will be start to do in Sijbren Otto’s group in this september. Lehn has a deep philosophical knowledge on the chemistry. I inspired a lot really. It is hard to tell everything in a blog post, you should be here and share the atmosphere with them.

At the same room, we attended Dan Schetman’s master class. In master classes, 4-5 young researchers selected to present their own work and got the opportunity to discuss it with the nobel laureates. The subject was the TEM of course. I was not very familiar with the TEM so I thought it would be a good chance to listen several works and the comments of a expert laureate. The presentations and the projects were amazing! I did not know that one can do structural 3D analysis by TEM. You have to got about 10.000 images for a sample. Thats huge! And as far as I understand the most imporntant thing is the sample preparation. Then everything can be done by just image processing. Cool area!

Last two days was lovely, sun were shining and etc. So I felt very lucky about going to Grill&Chill event. The event aims to meet laureates and young researchers with the local people. So after the master class we were off to Toscana park located on the mainland.

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Evening started fast for us. We got beers in the queue and got some sausages and pizza. In our table we also met with two German friend. We could not communicate very well because of our lack of German and their English. But we had good time.

I think nobody had think of rain that night. After an hour or so, it was showering again. Organization was amazing that they distributed tens of umbrellas. But night ended early. Before we left the Toscana park, took a group picture with Nesrin Karabag from the Lindau organization.

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