Peptide-membrane interactions: Faraday Discussion

8 - 10 September 2021, London, United Kingdom

Due to the continuing uncertainty of Covid-19, we understand the difficulty when planning to attend conferences. The RSC would like to reassure all delegates that this Faraday Discussion will go ahead. We are actively planning to hold this Faraday Discussion virtually, but continue to remain hopeful that the conference will be able to be held in London if it is safe to do so. Poster abstract submission is open and we encourage delegates to submit poster abstracts in confidence. Registration will open when we are able to confirm the format and in good time for delegates to make travel plans if required. Please contact us with any questions; we remain grateful for your support.


Join us in London in September 2021 for this addition to our Faraday Discussion series. For over 100 years and 300 meetings, Faraday Discussions have been the forefront of physical chemistry. Many of these Discussions have become landmark meetings in their field.
We invite you to join us to discuss the topic of peptide-membrane interactions and make your contribution to this cutting-edge dialogue alongside leaders in this field.
This meeting is for established scientists, post-graduate students and industrial researchers interested in the fundamental questions of cell biology including how peptides and proteins behave within biological membranes. Given the importance of improving our understanding of how macromolecules such as peptides interact with membranes, the unique format of the Faraday Discussions will allow for in-depth discussions and opportunities to establish new collaborations.
On behalf of our committee, we look forward to welcoming you to London.

Paul O’Shea
Chair, Peptide-membrane interactions

Format of the Discussion

Faraday Discussions remain amongst the only conferences to distribute the speakers’ research papers in advance, allowing the majority of each meeting to be devoted to discussion in which all delegates can participate.  Following each meeting a written record of the discussion is published alongside the papers in the Faraday Discussions journal. 
Find out more about the Faraday Discussions in this video:

Scientific Themes

It is difficult to overstate the importance of improving our understanding of how macromolecules such as peptides interact with membranes as this is such a fundamental aspect of how living systems operate. These processes are involved in protein folding, cell signalling, biogenesis, morphogenesis, disease and medical therapy. Next-generation synthetic biology goals will require a clearer understanding of how to control reticulated membrane structures in order to fabricate the supramolecular structures necessary for advanced synthesis and behaviour.
The molecular questions that require clarification and their solutions bridge the many divides between the fundamental physical chemistry of macromolecular polyelectrolytes and the supramolecular chemistry of membrane assemblies related to cell biology as well as drug development and synthetic biology. This Discussion meeting will seek to establish a sound platform for further developments in this important field by addressing several related aspects of peptide interactions with membranes. It will consider model theoretical and experimental systems in order to define the ‘reaction space’ that is possible and where appropriate with relevance to fundamental questions in cell biology including how peptides and proteins behave within biological membranes
The Discussion will focus on the following four themes:
Theoretical and experimental comparisons of simple peptide-membrane systems; towards defining the reaction space
With recent advances in computational modelling, it is now feasible to model membranes that can deliver realistic representations of multi-lipid assemblies and the interactions of peptides with these structures with atomistic detail seems also within reach. Similarly, there are many experimental tools to measure the interactions of macromolecules with membranes to a high degree of accuracy. By bringing these together this session will provide a sound platform to define the parameters and complete ‘interaction space’ of how peptides (and proteins) interact with lipid bilayers. This session will address the simplest membrane and peptide interactions in order to build a clear picture of the limiting molecular properties of the respective interactions as well as defining some of the outstanding questions that need to be considered in more sophisticated systems.
Theoretical and experimental studies of complex peptide-membrane systems
Consideration will be given to more sophisticated membranes such as those that include membrane nanodomains (rafts) together with more complex peptides and how they interact together. Combinations of atomistic and coarse-grain (eg Martini) modelling approaches offer detailed structural and thermodynamic representations of the properties of membranes that are likely to approach the complexity of biological lipid assemblies relatively soon. Some of the experimental measurements of monomeric peptides forming massive molecular assemblies on membranes (such as pore forming structures) however, are poorly understood. These are major challenges as supra-molecular assemblies on and within membranes are vitally important for both biotechnology and understanding the mechanisms of disease. The interplay between how membranes may modulate the structure of proteins/peptides on and within membranes and vice versa are key questions that will be addressed.
Behaviour and interactions of proteins and peptides with and within membranes; from simple models to cellular membranes
The behaviour of peptides and proteins within membranes will be considered further in this session. Discussion in the first two sessions will have set the scene for considering how peptides may interact with the much greater sophistication that comes with biological membranes. It will also be important to consider this in context of the still ongoing debate regarding membrane nanodomains. Similarly, it is crucial to take into account that these interactions take place within the biological milieu. Thus, excluded volume effects and molecular crowding need to be considered as important modifiers of the thermodynamics and kinetics of any kinds of molecular interaction. This session then will introduce some of the needs of industry and medicine such as the development of effective anti-microbial peptides that function by targeting bacterial membranes.
Peptide-membrane interactions and biotechnology; enabling next-generation synthetic biology
This session will consider how the properties of membranes may be manipulated by the presence of peptides. Thus, the rules for determining spatially localised behaviour in which modification of local properties of a membrane will be explored. This would include aspects of membrane curvature, tension, charge and fluidity each of which can affect the properties of membrane-located peptides and proteins. The final stages of the Discussion meeting then address how many of the membrane properties that seem likely to be important for manipulating supramolecular assemblies will be important for next generation synthetic biology applications.


The Royal Society of Chemistry is keen to encourage and enable as many people as possible to attend our events, to benefit from the networking opportunities and the chance to hear talks from leaders in the field. If you would like to discuss accessibility, or have childcare, caring responsibilities or other care needs, please contact us to discuss your requirements so that we can enable your attendance. Please refer also to our Grants for carers fund, for more information please see the ‘bursaries’ section on this page.
Abstract Submission

Oral Abstracts and Research Papers

A full research paper containing new unpublished results always accompanies oral presentations at Faraday Discussions. Submit an oral/paper abstract by 16 December 2020 if you wish to be considered for an oral presentation and associated published paper. The oral/paper abstract should outline current research in progress. Authors of the selected abstracts must then submit a full research paper with a significant amount of new, unpublished work by 19 April 2021.

The research papers are reviewed upon submission and are sent to all delegates 4 weeks before the meeting so they can be read in advance. At the meeting the presenting author is allowed five minutes to highlight the main points of their paper, and the rest of the time is for discussion. The discussion is recorded and will be published alongside the research paper in the Faraday Discussion Volume.  

Poster Abstracts 

Submit your poster abstract by 28 June 2021. Posters are displayed throughout the meeting and a poster session is held on the first evening. The Faraday Division Poster Prize will be awarded to the best poster presented by a student at the conference.

Additional Information

Authors will be notified of the outcome of the review process within about 6 weeks of the submission deadline. The abstracts should be no longer than one A4 page in portrait layout. Please ensure you provide the details of the presenting author and indicate whether you are submitting an abstract for oral or poster presentation.


Registration is currently paused. 

Please read the registration information before registering.  You can register by clicking on the online registration link on this page.  Please note accommodation is not included in the registration fee.

For non-member registrants attending this event, affiliate membership of the Royal Society of Chemistry is available until the end of 2021, the affiliate membership application will be processed and commence once the registrant has attended the event.

Registration includes:
  • Attendance at the sessions
  • Refreshments throughout the meeting
  • Lunch on all 3 days
  • Attendance at the poster drinks reception on Wedesday 8 September
  • Attendance at the conference dinner on Thursday 9 September
  • A copy of the discussion pre-prints
  • A copy of the final theme issue of Faraday Discussion Volume containing papers presented at the Discussion (issued approximately 6 months after the meeting)**
Regsitration fees are as follows (subject to VAT at the prevailing rate):
Early Bird
(19 July 2021)
(9 August 2021)
Members* £304.17 £350
Non-members £395.83 £441.67
Student members* £145.83 £191.67
Student non-members £170.83 £216.67
Guest fee *** £150 £150

* If you are an Royal Society of Chemistry member and wish to register for this meeting, please select the member option on the online registration page. You will need to enter your membership number.

 **Excluding students, who can order the volume at a reduced price at the conference. 

*** This includes all lunches, refreshments and the conference dinner but does not include attendance at any scientific sessions.‚Äč

Student Delegates

In order to encourage undergraduate or postgraduate students to attend the Discussion, a reduced conference fee (to include a set of pre-prints but not the final Discussion Volume) is available. This fee applies to those undertaking a full time course for a recognised degree or a diploma at a university or equivalent institution.

A copy of the publication may be purchased at less than half price, only for orders placed at the meeting where an application form will be made available.

Conference Dinner

The conference dinner on Thursday 9 September is included in the regsitration fee. 

Travel and Health Insurance

Delegates are advised to ensure that they have appropriate travel and health insurance.

Terms and Conditions for Events run by the Royal Society of Chemistry

In light of COVID-19, we are not currently accepting applications to our Travel Grant for PhD Students and Early Career Scientists. We will update our Travel Grants website with more information as it becomes available.

We have two types of grants available to attend this meeting:
  • A limited number of non-competitive travel grants of up to £200 are available for PhD students and early career scientists. These are assigned on a first come, first served basis.  Applicants must be Royal Society of Chemistry members of any level at the time of making their application.
  • Competitive grants of up to £800 are available to assist with international travel expenses for PhD students, postdocs within 10 years of completing their PhD and early career scientists (including technicians and industrialists) within 10 years of leaving full time education. In addition, applicants must be Royal Society of Chemistry members of any level at the time of making their application.
To take advantage of these grants and many other benefits, become a member. Follow the link on the right hand side to find out more and join today!

Grants for Carers

Grants for carers have been introduced following the Royal Society of Chemistry Breaking the barriers report where 78% of chemists working in UK academia felt that managing parenting and/or caring responsibilities has an impact on women’s retention and progression. This fund is not limited to women scientists and welcomes applications from anyone with caring responsibilities. These grants have been supported by The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemists’ Community Fund.

You can apply for up to a maximum of £1000/year to assist with additional financial costs that you incur for care usually provided by you whilst you attend a chemistry related meeting, conference or workshop or a professional development event.
Caring responsibilities are wide and varied, and so each application will be individually assessed, examples of applications that we will consider include:
  • paying for extra home help or nursing care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • additional medical/respite care for a dependent whilst you will not be present
  • travel expenses for a relative to travel with you to care for dependents whilst you attend a meeting or event
  • paying for extended hours with a care worker/childminder/play scheme to cover time when you will arrive home later than normal.
You are eligible to apply if:
  • you are a chemist
  • you will incur additional caring expenses whilst attending a chemistry-related meeting, conference, event or workshop or a professional development event
  • you will use these funds to cover the cost of care that you usually provide
  • you are based in the UK or Ireland or if not, you will normally have held three years RSC membership (past or current).
Sponsorship & supporting organisations
A selection of sponsorship opportunities is available for companies who would like to promote their activities at the 2021 Faraday Discussion series

There are opportunities available to become the Faraday Discussion series sponsor,  Research & Development partner or Poster prize series sponsor as well as some individual meeting options. 
Please note that exhibition spaces are limited, spaces will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

If you would like more information about sponsoring the 2021 Faraday Discussion series, please contact the Commercial Sales Department at the Royal Society of Chemistry on Sponsorship Menu
The Royal Society of Chemistry

The Royal Society of Chemistry, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J 0BA, United Kingdom

Please note that accommodation is not included in the registration fee.

Ellis Salsby are providing an accommodation booking service for this event.  If you would like to book accommodation, please use the link provided.

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Organised by the Faraday Division in association with the Chemistry Biology Interface Division
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