Introduction to Protein Folding with FoldIt, December 7, 2013

On Saturday December 7th, HiveBio hosted Introduction to Protein Folding with FoldIt. Jeremy Mills Ph.D. presented an introductory lecture on the molecular structure of proteins. Proteins are complicated molecules, consisting of a chain of various amino acid building blocks. The types of animo acids in the molecule and how they are assembled determine the 3D (scientists refer to it as the tertiary or quaternary) structure of the entire protein molecule.

Jeremy introduced FoldIt, a computer game modeled on the folding of real protein molecules. The goal of each level is to rearrange the 3D structure of the protein and optimize its spacial arrangement based on various chemical principles. Jeremy discussed how the FoldIt software was developed, what calculations are used to generate protein models, and used puzzle examples to show how the game can be used to find and predict molecular structures of proteins of interest in various fields of Biological research.

The class consisted of twelve members of the Seattle community, and included three teenage students, and several school teachers. Regardless of background, each participant found they could sink their teeth into some aspect of the class and enjoyed playing FoldIt. Questions ranged from “What do you mean by chemical bond?” to “Will these protein molecules become real drugs in the future?”

HiveBio will welcome Jeremy back for another FoldIt class in January or February. We are considering having two separate sessions, one for students interested in learning the basics of proteins and playing FoldIt, and a separate session for educators who would like to learn how to use FoldIt as a learning tool in the classroom.

To all of our participants, thank you for joining us! We hope to see you again at HiveBio!

Please send any comments or questions to HiveBio@gmail.com, and visit our Upcoming Classes page for class descriptions and links to registration!

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