ORIGINS OF LIFE WORKSHOP
 ATLANTA OCTOBER 14-17
(Return to Main Page)
 
UPDATED TENTATIVE SCHEDULE

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 14
Registration will be open 6-8 pm
 
MONDAY, OCTOBER 15
Introduction: Steven Benner. Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution. 30 min
Why RNA-first life could not possibly have emerged on Earth. Paradox construction in research into the origins of life.
 
Monday Morning. Early Earth History
Principal Investigator Presentation: Stephen Mojzsis. University of Colorado. 30 min
Unexpected expectations in the quest to understand life's emergence on the Hadean Earth.
 
Special Invitee: Ramon Brasser. ELSI Tokyo. 30 min
To be announced.
 
Special Invitee: Robert Hazen. UCLA. 30 min
(Tentative) Mineralogy of the Hadean.
 
Break
 
Special Invitee: Elizabeth Bell. UCLA. 30 min
Evidence from the zircon record for early Earth environments.
 
Special Invitee: Dustin Trail. University of Rochester. 30 min
(Tentative) Hadean zircons on prebiotic organic chemistry.
 
Lunch
 
Monday Afternoon. Prebiotic organic chemistry directed towards RNA
Organic chemistry, prebiotic building blocks
Principal Investigator Orientation: Hyo-Joong Kim. Firebird Biomolecular Sciences. 30 min
The organic chemistry of RNA building blocks.
 
Special Invitee: Ram Krishnamurthy. The Scripps Research Institute. 30 min
RNA may not be the first, but we need to understand whether it can be formed prebiotically.
 
Special Invitee: Matthew Pasek. University College London. 30 min
Phosphorylation of nucleosides.
 
Special Invitee: Matthew Powner. University College London. 30 min
Prebiotic selection and assembly of peptides and nucleotides.
 
Break
 
Alternatives to get RNA going
Special Invitee: David Fialho. Georgia Institute of Technology. 30 min
To be announced.
 
Special Invitee: Thomas Carell. Ludwig Maximilian University. 30 min
The origin of canonical and non-canonical nucleosides.
 
Panel-Audience Dialog: Can we ever solve the RNA building block problem? 45 min
 
Dinner

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16
Tuesday Morning
Peptides and RNA in prebiotic chemistry
Principal Investigator Orientation: Charles Carter. UNC Chapel Hill. 30 min
What we miss by ignoring the emergence of translation in thinking about the origin of life.
 
Special Invitee: Clemens Richert. University of Stuttgart. 45 min
The Peptido RNA World.
 
Break
 
Prebiotic organic chemistry directed towards oligomeric RNA
Principal Investigator Orientation: Niles Lehman. Portland State University. 45 min
To be announced.
 
Panel-Audience Dialog: Can we ever get oligomeric RNA? 45 min
 
Lunch
 
Tuesday Afternoon.
Thiophosphates
Principal Investigator Orientation: Andrew Ellington. University of Texas. 45 min
Phosphorothioate and other approaches to origins research.
 
Special Invitee: Tuomas Lönnberg. Turku University. 30 min
Phosphorothioate oligonucleotides by condensation of nucleosides and phosphorous acid in the presence of elemental sulfur.
 
Tools
Principal Investigator Orientation: George Fox. University of Houston. 45 min
Exploration of RNA sequence space in the absence of a replicase.
 
Principal Investigator Orientation: Andrej Luptak. UC Irvine. 45 min
Towards RNA-catalyzed ATP synthesis.
 
Panel-Audience Dialog: What tools are needed to advance origins work? 45 min
 
Disperse for an early dinner on your own
 
Excursion to the Fernbank Planetarium

 
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17
Wednesday Morning. Functioning nucleic acid
Principal Investigator Orientation: Elisa Biondi. FfAME. 45 min
Stability, handedness, and performance in oligonucleotides.
 
Special Invitee: Jennifer Heemstra. Emory University. 30 min
Evolution of artificial genetic polymers capable of small-molecule recognition.
 
Special Invitee: Chosen from the attendees. 30 min
To be announced.
 
Panel-Audience Dialog: Why is it so difficult to get robust function from oligo libraries? 45 min
 
Lunch
 
Wednesday Afternoon.  Wrap.
Panel-Audience Dialog: What are the next steps in prebiotic research? 60 min
 
SPECIAL PANEL-AUDIENCE DIALOG. Biases and disparities in origins research.
Nobel laureate Jack W. Szostak (Massachusetts General Hospital) has been invited to join Prof. Kim Cobb (Georgia Institute of Technology) and Prof. Jennifer Glass (Georgia Institute of Technology) to discuss bias and disparity in origins research.
 
4:00 pm Adjourn
 
 
Remarks
A. This is not your normal conference. We will be adjusting the program in real time as events during the workshop suggest it should be adjusted. We have left a slot open for a presentation from an attendee.
B. Participants in the Panel-Audience discussions will be self-selected, on stage and from the audience. Their purpose is to get the best minds in this field away from their PowerPoints and talking interactively with each other about the problems at hand. Models for such discussions include:
(a) The 2002 Astrobiology meeting at NASA Ames. The schedule was cleared to allow Bill Schopf and Martin Brasier to debate the biogenicity of carbon material in Australian cherts, with the floor open for remarks from an expert audience; the format proved remarkably effective (Nature 417, 782 (2002)).
(b) A workshop in the 1970s discussing the latest data from analyses of Moon rocks. Participants went into the conference not knowing how the Moon was formed, but came out with a consensus model for how the Moon was formed  Cameron, A. G. W.; Ward, W. R. (March 1976). "The Origin of the Moon". Abstracts of the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. 7: 120–122. Bibcode:1976LPI.....7..120C.
We would like very much to walk out of this workshop with, if not a solution to the prebiotic synthesis of oligomeric RNA, then at least a clear understanding of where the remaining problems are and how we should approach solving them.


(Return to Main Page)