Dr. Zvi Kelman (IBBR/NIST), along with Dr. Sonja-Verena Albers (Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology), recently co-chaired the 2013 Gordon Research Conference (GRC) “Archaea: Ecology, Metabolism & Molecular Biology”. Held in Lucca (Barga), Italy and attended by over 150 researchers from around the world, the conference expanded on a number of emerging topics highlighting new paradigms in archaeal metabolism, genome function and systems biology; information processing; evolution and the tree of life; the ecology and diversity of archaea; archaeal viruses and cellular defense. For over 75 years, GRC's meetings have been recognized as the world's premier scientific conferences, where leading investigators from around the world discuss their latest work and future challenges in a uniquely informal, interactive format. This GRC conference in Barga brought together scientists, students and post-docs to present recent unpublished developments in fundamental aspects of Archaea.
Archaea, one of three evolutionary lineages of life, is a diverse group of microbes with deep roots overlapping those of eukaryotes. The focus of the "Archaea: Ecology Metabolism and Molecular Biology" GRC, marked the 30th anniversary of the Gordon conference on Archaea (originally called "Molecular Aspects of Methanogenesis"). The conference acknowledged this anniversary by a special keynote address, “The Rise of the Archaea” by Dr. Rudolf Thauer (Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology). This keynote was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Carl R. Woese, who defined the Archaea as a new domain in 1977, pioneering a technique to use 16S ribosomal RNA in phylogenetic taxonomy.
Dr. Kelman’s own research at IBBR focuses on the mechanism of chromosomal DNA replication. The goal of the Kelman laboratory is to unravel the mechanism of initiation and elongation of DNA replication in archaea and other microorganisms using a combination of biochemical, biophysical, structural and genetic approaches. Using the genetic tools available in the euryarchaeal species, T. kodakarensis, Kelman and co-workers are identifying and isolating new replication factors. Dr. Kelman holds numerous leadership positions, including Editor-in-Chief of Research and Reports in Biology and he serves as the Director of the Biomolecular Labeling Laboratory (BL2), a joint facility of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland (UMD). The laboratory provides the infrastructure for protein labeling with stable isotopes (for more information the BL2, visit www.ibbr.umd.edu/facilities/bl2)