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K-State Today

April 11, 2022

Juan Perilla to present Anatomy and Physiology Seminar

Submitted by Gail Eyestone

Juan Perilla, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Delaware, will present "Discovery through the lens of the computational microscope" at the next Anatomy and Physiology Seminar at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12, at the Mara Conference Center in 407 Trotter Hall.

The essential conundrum of modern biology, namely the question of how life emerges from myriad molecules whose behavior is governed by physical law alone, is embodied within a single cell — the quantum of life. The rise of scientific supercomputing has allowed for the study of the living cell in unparalleled detail, from the scale of the atom to a whole organism and at all levels in between. In particular, the past three decades have witnessed the evolution of molecular dynamics simulations as a computational microscope, which provides a unique framework for the study of the phenomena of cell biology in atomic, or near-atomic, detail. In his lab, work synergistically combines single-molecule biophysics, structural biology and computational biology techniques to probe the molecular origin of biological phenomena. He will present an overview of our synergistic efforts with experimentalists to determine the molecular details during the life-cycle of HIV-1, a human immunodeficiency virus. Their work reveals complex relationships between capsid permeability and reverse transcription, and deciphers the role of host factors during the life-cycle of the virus. Perilla will present current efforts to develop novel therapeutic leads with the new knowledge derived from our experimental and computational approaches.

Perilla obtained his doctorate in 2011 at Johns Hopkins University, researching transition state theory applied to large conformational changes in proteins. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he studied entire viruses and bacterial organelles under physiological conditions. Perilla develops physical and chemical-based methodologies for the understanding of biological processes related to life and disease. In particular, his research spans from quantum-mechanical calculations to mesoscale simulations and leverages the computational power of petascale and exascale supercomputers. Perilla has conducted some of the largest simulations ever performed, allowing him to develop a robust statistical analysis framework for such big datasets. He has authored nearly 50 peer-reviewed articles, 11 journal covers and three book chapters.  Perilla enjoys sports like squash, golf, long-distance road cycling as well as playing chess and the violin.