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Season 2011 Episode 12.21.11

Understanding the Mechanical Biology of Lifes Bonds

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Julio Fernandez talks about creating a new field, mechanical biology, to further study protein dynamics ***************************************** When he was 10 years old, Julio Fernandez took a correspondence course in electronics and earned a certificate for putting together a doorbell. Today, the Columbia professor of biological sciences builds and takes apart proteins, the building blocks of the body which, when they bond improperly, may cause disease. Traditionally, scientists study proteins in a test tube, a method that Fernandez believes does not offer an accurate enough picture of complex body biochemistry. “In a test tube how would you know what’s happening to something that requires mechanical force to extend and relax?” he says, referring to the stretching and contracting that happens to proteins when they bond with one another in the body. “You have to study proteins and biological molecules in an environment as close to their native condition as possible.” More:moreless

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