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Santa Barbara  

Writing the Genomic Novel with Rob Phillips

Tuesday, Apr 19, 2016
06:00 pm - 09:00 pm

1105 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, USA

Regular price $ 48.00

This event is sold out. To be placed on the wait list, please contact:

Bill Weber
(805) 682-3755

Writing the Genomic Novel


Rob Phillips

Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology

We live in the genomic era. Though some might say that we “cracked” the genetic code in the 1960s, the ability to decipher genomes at will is really quite limited. Specifically, although we know much about deciphering protein coding regions in genomes, in single-cell and multi-cell organisms alike, it remains impressively difficult to figure out how genes are regulated and how to tune that regulation to our own ends. Even in the most well understood of organisms, such as the bacterium E. coli, for half the genes we still know next to nothing about how they are regulated. The big question that will be explored in my talk is how might we go about deciphering the modern Rosetta Stone of genomes and, given our understanding of that rich biological language, can we rewrite these genomes to create previously unimagined organisms?


  • 6:00 p.m. – Cash-bar reception
  • 6:30 p.m. – Dinner, followed by Presentation
  • 9:00 p.m. – Event concludes

Parking is available in the Club lot or on the street.
Deadline to Register: Thursday, April 14

Questions, or to pay by check, contact:

Bill Weber
(805) 682-3755

About Rob Phillips

(from his website)

Our work focuses on three primary areas which serve as case studies in the physical dissection of biological problems.

First, we have had a long standing interest in how viruses transfer their genetic material to their infected hosts. On the theoretical side, we have explored the free energy cost of DNA packing within viruses and how that stored energy can be used to power genome transfer. These efforts are complemented by single-molecule studies in which we watch individual viruses deliver their genomes in real time. These experiments reveal a rich interplay between the free energy which drives ejection and the friction that the DNA encounters as it enters the infected host.

Second, we have been fascinated by the interplay between the informational and physical characteristics of DNA which has led to efforts on single-molecule and single-cell studies of how transcription factors interact with, deform and loop DNA. These single-molecule approaches are coupled with statistical mechanical modeling which permit the determination of the nature of the DNA-protein interactions that mediate many genomic transactions. Until recently, our efforts have primarily focused on bacterial transcription, but of late we have generalized these efforts to V(D)J recombination as a signature eukaryotic example of the interplay between information and physical processes on DNA.

Third, cells are subjected to forces of all kinds. One of the most severe mechanical perturbations that cells can suffer is osmotic shock. Our interest in these systems began with theoretical calculations of how mechanosensitive channels in bacteria work. Insights from these models have led us to undertake single-cell osmotic shock experiments in which we watch the response of cells harboring various combinations of mechanosensitive channels to osmotic shock.

Our efforts in this area culminated in the recent publication of a book entitled Physical Biology of the Cell published by Garland Press.

Questions? Contact: wweber@alumni.caltech.edu

Santa Barbara: Writing the Genomic Novel with Rob Phillips

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