18 January 2023

Weria Pezeshkian receives Project Grant from Novo Nordisk Foundation

Weria PezeshkianNovo Nordisk Foundation Assistant Professor Weria Pezeshkian has been awarded a Project Grant in the Natural and Technical Sciences 2022 from the Novo Nordisk Foundation for his project titled “Unraveling Conformations of High-genus Membranes.

Biomembranes are fundamental to our understanding of the cell, the basic building block of all life. An intriguing aspect of membranes is their ability to assume a variety of shapes, which is crucial for cell function. While membranes can bend easily, their surface topology often remains constant. Over the past decades, the shape of fluid lipid membranes with spherical topology has been extensively explored experimentally, theoretically, and through computer simulations. However, our understanding of membranes of higher genera remains extremely limited. High-genus membranes are of interest for two reasons: (i) organelle membranes, such as the ones found in mitochondria and Golgi apparatus exhibit high-genus shapes, and (ii) these structures allow for a much wider range of membrane conformations, which enables a better design of biomimetic systems, such as vesicles for nano-technological and biomedical applications.  In this projectwe will expand a multiscale scheme to characterize the shape of high genus membranes. We aim to predict different shape families, understand how to control and stabilize these shapes, and reveal how proteins organize on these morphologies.

The grant will allow Weria to hire one PhD student and a post-doctoral researcher who will work under his guidance over the next three years.