Last week Alexander Ohmann (Keyser group) won the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (the German Physical Society) first poster prize (350 Euro) awarded by the Biological Physics Division and sponsored by the Europhysics Letters jornal editor.
In his poster "Influence of cholesterol tags on structural properties of artificial DNA nanopores" Alexander demonstrated that it is possible to fabricate synthetic nanopores using chemically synthesised DNA as a building material. When modified with the hydrophobic molecule cholesterol, these nanoconstructs are able to self-insert into a lipid membrane and produce stable ionic currents similar to biological ion channels. His research focussed on the structural effects of modifying such DNA pores at different locations and in varying quantity with cholesterol. The aim of this highly interdisciplinary project is to control the hydrophobicity of these DNA structures in order to minimise aggregation in solution while maximising their membrane insertion efficiency.