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2012 CECAM workshop on DNA sequencing with nanoprobes co-organized by Prof. Nikolic in Italy

December 20, 2011 - The successful realization of fast and low-cost methods for reading the sequence of DNA bases is envisaged to lead to personalized medicine and applications in various subfields of genetics. A variety of tools borrowed from condensed matter physics, such as solid-state nanopores or nanogaps between two metallic electrodes,  have recently emerged as one of the pillars of the so-called third generation DNA sequencing. The key issue in these approaches revolve around  how to slow down the translocation speed of the DNA molecule and how to achieve single-base resolution.

The CECAM workshop on DNA sequencing and detection with nanoprobes was recently approved by the CECAM Council to be held in Pisa, Italy from June 11-13, 2012. The workshop, co-organized by Prof. Nikolic and five collaborators from the US, Germany, Italy and Japan, will gather world's leading experts in computational modeling of interactions between solids, liquids and bio-polymers. The talks to be presented at the workshop will cover topics ranging from molecular dynamics simulations of DNA translocation through nanopores to first-principles quantum transport simulations of nanoelectronic biosensors based on gold, graphene (see recent Nano Letters article by Nikolic group) and carbon nanotubes

The interest in the topics of DNA sequencing and detection is increasingly shared by physicists, chemists and biologists that traditionally have different backgrounds and belong to different communities with little communication. The workshop participants will benefit from the presence of several internationally-renowned experimentalists that will provide a broad overview of the experimental challenges and motivate discussions among theorists. This should foster a synergistic iterative process for the future where computation guides experiments, while experiments advance computation and theory.


CECAM (Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire) is a European organization devoted to the promotion of fundamental research on advanced computational methods and to their application to important problems in frontier areas of science and technology. As the acronym CECAM indicates, traditionally the focus of its activities has been on atomistic and molecular simulations, mainly in relation to the physics and chemistry of condensed matter. Powerful methods have been developed over the last two decades for molecular simulations that have improved on their reliability. In addition, the synergic development of hardware and software, have further led molecular simulations to broaden their reach to more realistic modeling and thus their range of application, from materials science to biology to medicinal chemistry. CECAM has always been very attentive to such development and also fostered it. Nowadays, computer simulations are considered the third way of doing science, beyond theory and experiment. Indeed, their role as a research tool has been growing in many domains of science and engineering, to the point of becoming increasingly essential to their progress. In response to this phenomenon, which is believed to be at its early stages only, CECAM will evolve in its scope and structure, to cover important areas of computational science, beyond those traditional to the CECAM community, and to comprehend several competence centers distributed over Europe and their coordinated activities.

CECAM activities will range from the organization of scientific workshops to that of specific tutorials at the graduate level on the use of especially relevant software, from brain-storming meetings on timely topics to collaborative research projects, and sponsoring of an interesting visitors program as well as of specialized courses in computational sciences also at the master level.