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Vol. 30 No. 3
May-June 2008

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/symposia

Infrared Spectroscopy Applied to Biological and Biomimetic Systems

by Andrea Gómez-Zavaglia

The International Workshop on Infrared Spectroscopy Applied to Biological and Biomimetic Systems: From the Isolated Molecule to the Cell (FTIR 2007) was held 5–7 November 2007 at the Goethe Institute, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As the conference demonstrated, the versatility of infrared spectroscopy has stimulated a substantial number of new developments in experimental techniques and instrumentation as well as in theoretical methods, specialized software, and computational equipment. Nowadays, the combination of experimental and computational spectroscopic approaches has become the new methodological paradigm to undertake advanced research on biologically relevant problems.

For this reason, the main purpose of FTIR 2007 was to facilitate discussion about all aspects of infrared-spectroscopy-based methodologies and their applications in physics, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, biophysics, and medicine. To fulfill this aim, topics such as Infrared Spectroscopy of Cells and Tissues, Low Temperature Infrared Spectroscopy, Infrared Spectroscopy of Lipids and Proteins, and Infrared Spectroscopy in Molecular Diagnostics and in Biomimetic Systems were discussed.

In summary, the aim of FTIR 2007 was to cover the most outstanding breakthrough of FTIR (Fourier Transform InfraRed) spectroscopy methodology (from isolated-molecules to cells) and diffuse it among young researchers. The meeting helped elucidate the applications of FTIR in different, but still interconnected fields: from the isolated molecule to whole cellular systems, from the structure and reactivity of simple biological molecules to the investigation of the functionality of enzymes, nucleic acids, and membranes, from looking at the fundamental physics underlying simple molecular processes to uses in clinical biochemistry.

The participation of well-known specialists in different domains of infrared spectroscopy provided a complete overview about the full potential of the technology. In this sense, it is worth mentioning the interesting lectures of Henry Mantsch, Dieter Naumann, Jürgen Schmitt, Rui Fausto, Ronald Birke, Urs Peter Fringeli, José Luis Arrondo, Jean-Marie Ruysschaert, and Klaus Brandenburg among many others, which provided different points of views on the potential of FTIR. These perspectives definitely enriched the discussions after each session.

At the same time, the informal ambience of this event also helped stimulate the interaction among participants. This is particularly important for encouraging open-minded younger scientists.

The decision to hold the meeting in a “far away” city such as Buenos Aires represented a big challenge. For this reason, it was gratifying to have spectroscopists from Asia, Africa, Europe, and America take part in the meeting. This created a valuable human richness that was much appreciated by the participants.

During this three-day meeting, 9 plenary lectures, 10 semiplenary lectures and 10 short talks took place. The first day was dedicated to the biomedical applications of vibrational spectroscopy. The second day, to the physicochemical characterization of biologically relevant compounds, and the third day, to the infrared spectroscopy of lipids and proteins.

IUPAC’s financial support enabled the conference organizers to cover some of the travel costs of the plenary lecturers and also to provide grants to younger participants, which constituted one of the most fundamental objectives of this meeting (to provide an opportunity for young scientists to meet internationally recognized scientists in this field and to learn from them and develop their chosen professions).

The success of the meeting encouraged the organizers to consider FTIR 2007 as the first in a series of meetings. After the event, the idea of organizing a meeting in approximately two years was accepted by everyone.

Andrea Gómez-Zavaglia <angoza@interar.com.ar> is a professor at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.


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