Scientists from Mexico and the United States will participate in a workshop on “Knots in Biological Sciences” April 28 at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD).
The workshop is being co-sponsored by UTD, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Mexico’s Research Center for Mathematics (El Centro de Investigaciones en Matematicas A.C.), known as CIMAT. The scientific gathering is an outgrowth of a collaboration agreement signed in Guanajuato, Mexico, last February by representatives of UTD and CIMAT. Among other things, the pact promotes the development of joint studies, research and training activities and other educational programs of mutual interest and commits the two educational institutions to establishing exchange programs of benefit to both.
Among those participating in the workshop will be Dr. Jose Carlos Gomez Larranaga, general director of CIMAT; Dr. Ray Baughman, Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry and head of the UTD NanoTech Institute; Dr. Rama Ranganathan, associate professor in the Pharmacology Department at UT Southwestern; and Dr. Isabel K. Darcy of the University of Iowa.
Dr. Stephen Levene, associate professor of molecular and cell biology at UTD, said the mathematical theory of knots and its applications to biological and chemical problems would be the principal focus of the workshop. “In a mathematical sense, a knot is a particular form of a circle in three dimensions. Applications of knot theory to biological and chemical systems arise naturally because long chain molecules such as DNA can be knotted by the action of enzymes that exist within living cells,” Levene explained. “In molecular biology, the characterization of DNA knots, both in the test tube and in cells, is a powerful tool for understanding DNA structure and enzymatic mechanism.”