Department of Translational Biosciences Seminar Series: Understanding the mechanisms of ion channel selectivity and gating

Dr Ben Corry, Senior Lecturer, Transport Proteins and Computational Biophysics Lab, Research School of Biology, ANU.

Ben Corry graduated with a PhD in Physics from the ANU, before taking up an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship and subsequent ARC Research Fellowship at the University of Western Australia. Here he has studied the fundamental aspects of ion channel function including mechanisms of ion selectivity and gating using a range of computational and fluorescence techniques. In addition he has been designing biomimetic porous membranes for water filtration and desalination. In 2005 he won the Young Biophysicist Award from the Australian Society for Biophysics and was awarded the 2008 Young Scientist of the Year at the WA Premier's Science Awards. In 2011 Ben won a Young Tall Poppy Science Award and was a finalist in the Eureka Science Awards before moving to the ANU at the start of 2012.

Our research examines the structure and function of a family of pore forming proteins known as ion channels. We aim to understand the mechanisms by which these proteins can identify and transport molecules across the cell membrane, and how the pores open and close to control this transport. In addition we are interested in studying transport in other kinds of pores, be they in proteins, crystaline materials or synthetic membranes. Gaining a fundamental understanding of the operation of biological pores has allowed us to design synthetic porous membranes that can be used for the desalination of sea water or to remove dangerous contaminants from water supplies.

Proteins and macromolecules can be difficult to study due to their size, functioning at the interface of microscopic molecular behaviour and macroscopic mechanical behaviour. To investigate them we use a combination of computational techniques including quantum calculations, molecular dynamics, and macroscopic modelling. In addition we utilise FRET microscopy (Förster Resonance Energy Transfer) to experimentally study the conformational changes of proteins as they function.


Date & time

3.30–4.30pm 10 May 2012


The Finkel Lecture Theatre, The John Curtin School of Medical Research, Building 131, Garran Road, ANU


 Roual Mitigas
 +61 2 612 52439

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