Vangelos Center by John Muggenborg

International SMALP Conference

The International SMALP Conference is being held on Friday March 20, 2020 in New York City and is being organized by Youzhong Guo, Oliver Clark and Michael Overduin.

Preregister below at no cost to reserve your place.

Confirmed speakers are below, and further nominations are welcome including from young scientists, women and minorities.

Ann McDermott, Columbia University, studies the structure, function, and conformational dynamics of membrane proteins in native-like environments by methods including NMR.

Wayne Hendrickson, Columbia University, developed multi-wavelength anomalous dispersion as a tool for solving the ‘phase problem’, which revolutionized protein X-ray crystallography, and uses cryo-electron microscopy to elucidate the structural basis of membrane proteins including the ryanodine receptor.

Bert Klumperman, Stellenbosch University, designs novel polymers using methods including radical polymerization and reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) mediated polymerization, and investigates polymer-protein and polymer-peptide conjugates.

The conference is being held at the Vagelos Education Center, a 14-story glass tower opened by Columbia University in 2016. It offers a state-of-the-art lecture theatre and spaces for networking and developing collaborations. Photo credits: John Muggenborg (below) and Pavel Bendov (above).


Youzhong Guo, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Virginia Commonwealth University, is focussed on the structural biology of membrane proteins, native cell membrane lipid bilayers and drug discovery.


Oliver Clarke, Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University, interested in crystallography, cryoEM, model building and ion channels.


Michael Overduin, Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta is developing novel amphipathic polymers and methods to solubilize and study native membrane protein complexes including infectious prions and beta barrels.


SMALP Meeting in Utrecht

A SMALP meeting was held in Utrecht on Friday April 26, 2019. The 125 participants gathered to form the world's largest native nanodisc. With a diameter of over 7 meter the SMALP included red-orange protein, blue-green lipid and grey-black polymer components:


Vincent Postis, Leeds Beckett University, focuses on functional and structural characterisation of membrane transporters, and develops techniques including SMALP methods to improve membrane protein production and crystallisation, including the design of automated methods for the high throughput cloning, expression, 2D & 3D crystallisation and elucidation of membrane protein structures by cryo-EM. He is also Editor In Chief at Molecular Membrane Biology.

Tony Watts focuses on how biological membranes and GPCRs work using a range of biophysical methods from magnetic resonance to microscopy, functional assays and simulation.


Karen Edler , Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Bath and member of the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies, Centre for Nanoscience & Nanotechnology and Centre for Biosensors, Bioelectronics and Biodevices focuses on the formation of functional, hierarchically structured materials in order to design new materials including micelles, nanoparticles, polymers using self-assembly in solution and at interfaces.

Siewert Jan Marrink, Head of Molecular Dynamics Group, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Groningen is unravelling the lateral organization principles of biological membranes, and developing efficient computational models to simulate molecular processes. He is the Director of the Berendsen Center for Multiscale Modeling and Material Design, an European Research Council Advanced Grant awardee and organizer of Martini Workshops.

Bob Gennis, Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studies the structure and mechanisms of prokaryotic respiratory enzymes that generate a membrane potential, and recently published on the Structure of the alternative complex III (ACIII) from Flavobacterium johnsoniae in SMA copolymer nanodiscs by cryoEM.


Sandro Keller, Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Vice Dean, Faculty of Biology, University of Kaiserslautern and Associate Editor, Biophysics Section, Journal of Membrane Biology, studies the design, assembly and exchange dynamics of SMA and DIBMA based lipid particles.

Bert Klumperman is holder of the South African Research Chair on Advanced Macromolecular Architectures at the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University. He investigates nano-structured materials for biomedical applications, conducts mechanistic and kinetic studies of radical polymerisation processes, and performs exploratory polymer chemistry for advanced applications.


Adrian Kopf, PhD student in the group of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics, at Utrecht University in the Netherlands is investigating the influence of comonomer composition and length on membrane solubilization to form SMALP (native) nanodiscs.

Irina Smirnova, Ph.D, researcher, Stockholm University, investigates mechanism of energy conservation by terminal oxidases from pro- and eukaryotes. With a help of SMA, pure and active cytochrome c oxidase surrounded by native lipids was isolated from mitochondria of baker yeast and directly incorporated into liposomes without a usage of detergents.

Zoe Stroud, PhD student at the School of Biosciences in the University of Birmingham is funded by the BBSRC in the area of industrial biotechnology and will present on SMALPing the Divisome: Characterisation of the FtsBL Subcomplex.

Weihua Qiu, postdoctoral research scientist, at Virginia Commonwealth University, is interested in the structural and functional study of membrane proteins. Recently she solved the structure of a native cell membrane lipid bilayer, as published in PNAS.

Nathan Brady, PhD candidate in the department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology at The University of Tennessee Knoxville, will present Photosystem I Native Nanodiscs: Preserving the Powerplant of the Planet with SMALPs.

Giulia Weissenberger, applications engineer at CryoSol-World, contributing to the rapidly advancing world of cryoEM in the search and resolution of near-atomic structures, previous research on infectious disease and the design and purification of recombinant proteins for vaccine and rapid assay development in the USA,and a master’s in Biomedical Engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology.

Industry Panel

Kacee H. Sims, Ph.D.
Marketing Technical Specialist
Avanti Polar Lipids, Inc.



maya wrightMaya Wright, Ph.D., Applications Scientist at Fluidic Analytics will present Introducing Microfluidic diffusional sizing (MDS), a novel technique for evaluating SMALP nanodisc formation.


Jan Kubicek on Chatting out of the sewing box: membrane protein service at Cube Biotech GmbH. Jan has a PhD in biology from the University of Duesseldorf/Helmholtz Research Center Juelich, post-doc'd in Juelich on crystallization of membrane proteins, co-developing the Controlled in Meso Phase Crystallization (CIMP) method for membrane protein crystallization.

Stefan Scheidelaar, Ph.D.
SMA Chemist & Technical Product Manager
Polyscope Polymers B.V. M


Edward E. Pryor, Ph.D.
Director of Business Development – Proteomics
Senior Applications and Product Specialist
Anatrace / Molecular Dimensions will speak on "Breaking the mold: Detergent free solutions from a historically detergent-only company"