We organize an international 4-day workshop in Helsinki (19-22 August 2018) to focus on lipids and their function in biomembranes. The meeting provides an outstanding set of 26 internationally recognized scientists selected as Plenary and Invited Speakers. Experiments and simulations/theory are discussed on equal footing.

The strategic themes selected for the conference are based on recent breakthroughs in the field:

  • Lipids have been found to modulate membrane protein activation.
  • Cell membranes have been observed to host functional nanoscale domains with specific lipid and protein content.
  • Studies have shown that membrane proteins have a high affinity for selected lipids that are protein-specific.
  • Several diseases such as brain disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, schizophrenia) have been found to have a correlation with an altered lipid composition.
  • For determination of membrane protein structures, new outstanding techniques are now available, such as cryo-EM that was granted the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017.
  • New experimental technology has allowed nano-scale/single-molecule studies of lipids and their interactions with membrane proteins.
  • Novel simulation methods have been designed to foster large-scale studies of membranes with increasing complexity.

Based on these breakthroughs, the themes of the conference are:

  • Lipid-protein interactions, lipid-activated protein function, and functional consequences of the lipidome. The objective is to understand how specific lipids activate membrane proteins, and how altered lipid compositions (as observed in diseases) interfere with protein function.
  • Dynamics in membranes under physiological and non-equilibrium conditions. The aim is to gain insight into the full complexity of biomembrane dynamics in living systems, where the molecules are subject to, e.g., crowding and enzymatic structural modifications.
  • Imaging and microscopy & development of simulation models to couple super-resolution microscopy and single-molecule spectroscopy to computer simulation studies.
  • Development of new means to analyze the complexity of biomembranes using techniques such as machine learning, and through the coupling of protein structure determination and simulations.
  • Collaboration. In all possible ways, the objective is to foster collaborations bridging experiments with simulations and theory.

To reach the goal, we will bring together physicists and chemists to interact with people from cell biology and medical sciences, and theorists and simulators to interact with experimentalists working on cells, cell membranes, and model membrane systems using a variety of novel and emerging techniques. The sessions of the conference are organized according to the above key themes. The plenary and invited speakers set the ground for a lively and fruitful exchange of ideas.