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McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School

BME Seminar: Sarah Veatch, PhD

Thursday, February 29 | 10:00 AM

Uncas A. Whitaker Hall, 218
6760 Forest Park Pkwy, St. Louis, MO 63105, USA

Presenting on "Biological tuning of the membrane phase transition facilitates plasma membrane organization and function".

Sarah Veatch, PhD, professor of biophysics and physics at the University of Michigan, will speak on Thursday, February 29, 2024 at 10:00 am CT in Whitaker 218. 

Abstract: Isolated cell plasma membranes are biologically tuned to be in a single phase at growth temperature but close to a critical point of the membrane liquid-liquid phase transition.  This talk will explore several consequences of this biological tuning through experiments in model and intact cell membranes. For example, near-critical membranes have a high compositional susceptibility, meaning that stable membrane domains can assemble in response to membrane proximal forces.  This is demonstrated in live B cells through quantitative super-resolution nanoscopy measurements that detect the emergence of functional domains upon B cell receptor clustering.  Near-critical tuning of the membrane phase transition can also enhance the stability of proteins condensed at membranes, and this is demonstrated through simulation and experiments in model and cellular systems.

Registration to attend virtually is required. Please register.

Event Type



McKelvey School of Engineering


Science & Technology, Medicine & Health



Biomedical Engineering


Event Contact

Mimi Hilburg | mhilburg@wustl.edu

Speaker Information

Sarah Veatch, PhD, is a Professor of Biophysics and Physics, the Associate Director of the Biophysics unit, and director of the Biophysics Graduate Program at the University of Michigan.

Her early work described liquid-liquid phase separation in model membranes, mapping phase diagrams in purified systems and describing composition fluctuations near miscibility critical points.  She found that vesicles isolated from living cell plasma membranes  are biologically tuned to be near a membrane phase transition at growth temperatures.  Her lab is translating concepts of membrane phase separation to living cell membranes using single molecule fluorescence localization microscopy methods to quantify membrane composition at high spatial and temporal resolution and physically rigorous models to describe functional organization within signaling processes.  Overall, her research program aims to understand how diverse cellular signaling processes exploit emergent behaviors of heterogeneous plasma membranes.

Sarah received the Henry Russel Award of the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School in 2017, the Howard Prize from Durham University in 2015, the Margaret Oakley Dayhoff award from the Biophysical Society in 2014, and the a Sloan Research Fellowship in 2012.  She is principle investigator on research grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

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