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Structural and functional asymmetry of plasma membranes Faraday Discussion

23 - 25 April 2025, London, United Kingdom

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Join us in London in April 2025 for this edition of the Faraday Discussion series. The Faraday Discussions are unique international discussion meetings that address current and emerging topics at the forefront of the physical sciences.

This meeting is for established and early-career scientists, postgraduate students and industrial researchers working on various aspects of plasma membranes. It will provide an ideal forum for cross-fertilisation of ideas and understanding between the distinct but adjacent communities working in this exciting field. On behalf of the organising committee, we look forward to welcoming you to London, or if you are joining us virtually, online.


Faraday Discussions have a special format where primary research papers written by the speakers are distributed to all participants before the meeting, and most of the meeting is devoted to discussing the papers. All delegates at the meeting, not just speakers, have the opportunity to make comments, ask questions, or present complementary or contradictory measurements and calculations during the discussion sessions. In addition, there is a dedicated poster session where further discussion takes place. The research papers and a record of the discussion are published in the journal Faraday Discussions.


Recent developments in experimental and computational chemistry, physics and life sciences have enabled a greater quantitative understanding of lipid asymmetry and its coupling to protein function. This Discussion will explore the various facets of membrane asymmetry, bringing together experts in membrane physical chemistry, membrane biophysics, and membrane physiology.
The Discussion will focus on the following four themes.

Plasma membrane asymmetry and lipid homeostasis
The omics era has provided much data on phospholipids, sphingolipids, sterols and proteins located in different membranes, although information on their functional relevance remains limited. This session will address challenges such as measuring trans-leaflet lipid distribution, including the spatiotemporal relation to overall lipid composition, and dissecting secondary lipid messengers from lipid ‘players’ with respect to bulk membrane properties.

Engineering plasma membrane mimics
Quantification of physicochemical properties of realistic plasma membrane mimics hinges on the controlled production of asymmetric bilayers in the presence and absence of integral or peripheral membrane proteins. This session will discuss recently developed asymmetric membrane procedures and how these might be improved.

Structure and dynamics of asymmetric membranes
In this session we will seek to obtain physicochemical insights from lipid-only plasma membrane mimics. The session will include minimum realistic mimics of mammalian or bacterial plasma membranes, as well as the role of cholesterol in tuning and maintaining membrane asymmetry.

Proteins in asymmetric membranes
This session will focus on integral proteins functionally reconstituted into asymmetric membranes. Topics will include folding and reconstitution of proteins in asymmetric lipid membranes, control of protein directionality, and stability of lipid asymmetry in the presence of integral proteins.
Felix Goni (Closing Remarks), University of Basque Country, Spain

Born in San Sebastián (Spain) in 1951. MD (University of Navarra) in 1975. Postdoc under D. Chapman, Royal Free Hospital, University of London, 1976-78. Lecturer, then Professor of Biochemistry at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) Bilbao, Spain (1978 onwards, Emeritus Professor since 2021). Founder and Head of the “Unidad de Biofísica”, a joint centre of CSIC and the University of the Basque Country (2002-2015). President of the Spanish Biophysical Society SBE (1992-1998), Chair of FEBS Publications Committee (2006-2011), Chair of the International Relations Committee of the US Biophysical Society (2011-2016). President of the Spanish Biochemical Society SEBBM (2016-2020).
His research has dealt with several aspects of the structure and dynamics of biological membranes, using a variety of biophysical approaches (calorimetry, IR and fluorescence spectroscopy, advanced fluorescence microscopy, atomic force microscopy) together with molecular biology and computational tools. The main lipids studied by F.M. Goñi are the diacylglycerols and, more recently, the ceramides and other related sphingolipids. Diacylglycerols were found to destabilize the membrane core structure, the lipid bilayer, thus facilitating membrane fusion and modulating the activities of membrane-bound enzymes. A number of unexpected properties were described for ceramides, such as permeabilizing cell membranes, separating laterally in the plane of the membrane into ceramide-rich domains, or even inducing transbilayer (“flip-flop”) motion of other lipids.
Teacher of Biochemistry and Biophysics at the undergraduate level for over 40 years. Promoter, while Head of Department, of the new degree in Biochemistry at the UPV/EHU (1993). Promoter and Head of the Steering Committee of the new Master in Biomedicine and Molecular Biology (2005). Supervisor of 26 Ph.D. theses and 24 Master’s theses.
Over 350 papers, over 18,000 citations (WoS).
2021, Research Award, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; 2019, David Parkin Visiting Professor, University of Bath, UK; 2016-2020, Member of the Editorial Board, Annual Review of Biophysics; 2017, Real Academia Nacional de Medicina, Spain; 2017,  Premio Dr. Luis Federico Leloir, Argentina; 2016, D. Sc. (hon.) University of Bordeaux; 2015, Real Academia Nacional de Farmacia, Spain; 2014, Commander (Encomienda con Placa) Order of  Alfonso X el Sabio, Spain; 2013, Avanti-European Biophysical Societies Association (EBSA) Lipid Award.

Markus Deserno, Carnegie Mellon University, United States

Markus Deserno is a professor in the Department of Physics at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). He works in the field of theoretical and computational biophysics, with a focus on lipid membranes and proteins, using a diverse spectrum of techniques that range from coarse-grained Molecular Dynamics simulations up to differential geometry and statistical field theory. Dr. Deserno received his Ph.D. from the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany. After graduation, he held a postdoctoral research position at UCLA, followed by a group leader position back at the MPI, before joining CMU in 2007. Between 2014 and 2020 he served on the Editorial Board of the Biophysical Journal, and he is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Sheena E. Radford, Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology
, United Kingdom

Sheena Radford completed her BSc in Biochemistry at the University of Birmingham and her PhD from the University of Cambridge. After postdoctoral and fellowship positions at the University of Oxford she established her independent group at the University of Leeds as a lecturer, becoming a Professor in 2000. She currently holds a Royal Society Research Professorship and is Astbury Professor of Biophysics. Her research focuses on the mechanisms of protein folding and misfolding in amyloid diseases, and how bacteria fold their proteins into their outer membranes to build the cell wall. She has published over 320 articles on these topics and has received several awards, including Fellowships of the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences, and Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to molecular biology. 

  • Gerald W.Feigenson (Introductory Lecture) Cornell University, United States
  • Heiko Heerklotz University of Freiburg, Germany
  • Neha Kamat Northwestern University, United States
  • Armagan Kocer University of Twente, Netherlands
  • Kandice Levental Virginia University, United States
  • Erwin London Stony Brook University, United States
  • Sylvie Roke EPFL, Switzerland

Abstract Submission

Oral Abstracts

A full research paper containing new unpublished results always accompanies oral presentations at Faraday Discussions. 

Submit your oral abstract before 22 July 2024.

Papers must be submitted by 2 December 2024 and be full research papers with a significant amount of new, unpublished work. 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 12 February 2025. 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 4-6 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

Grants for carers

With our Grants for carers, you can apply for up to £1,200 per year to help you attend a chemistry-related meeting, conference or workshop or a professional development event. This money would be used to cover any additional costs you incur, paying for care that you usually provide.  Please visit the website for further information and eligibility criteria.

Accessibility grants

With our Accessibility grants, you can apply for up to £1,200 per year to help with the cost of specific support to attend a chemistry-related meeting, conference, workshop or professional development event. This support might be any form of equipment, service, or other personal expense associated with meeting your access needs.

Researcher Development and Travel Grants

If you are an RSC member and you are one of the following:
  • a PhD student actively undertaking a PhD course in the chemical sciences; 
  • a researcher in the chemical sciences (including post docs, research technicians and research assistants), working in academia, industry or any sector, within 10 years of leaving full time education (at the time of the application deadline).
You can apply for up to £500 to support your participation in this event.

Please note it is not necessary to have confirmation of abstract acceptance before applying for a Researcher Development and Travel Grant and we encourage you to apply as early as possible. 
Please see the website for up-to-date information on eligibility, how to apply and submission deadlines.
Researcher Development and Travel Grants can be applied for in addition to Grants for Carers and Assistance Grants.
Sponsorship & supporting organisations
A selection of sponsorship opportunities is available for companies who would like to promote their activities at the 2025 Faraday Discussion series.
If you would like more information about sponsoring the 2025 Faraday Discussion series, please contact the Commercial Sales Department at the Royal Society of Chemistry on
The Royal Society of Chemistry

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