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May 23, 2024 "Neutron Scattering: Exploring Cell Membrane Mechanisms" by Prof. Giovanna Fragneto

By Christine Marie-Therese Darve posted 04-26-2024 11:43


LIVE from Sweden, we will learn on the power of neutron to disentangle the mystery of Life-Science !
Advanced techniques like thermal neutrons and synchrotron radiation, along with model membrane systems, have greatly improved our understanding of cellular membrane structure and interactions with other molecules.

Title: "Neutron Scattering: Exploring Cell Membrane Mechanisms"

by Prof. Giovanna Fragneto

Thursday May 23, 2024

16:00 CET  (10:00 ET)


Now available: YouTube Recording


Prof. Giovanna Fragneto (European Spallation Source ERIC, Partikelgatan 2, SE-22484 Lund,


Giovanna Fragneto is the Science Director of the European Spallation Source based in Lund Sweden, an ERIC facility under construction that has the ambition to become the most powerful neutron source in the world. She spent 25 years at the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), an international research institute based in Grenoble, France, delivering high flux neutron beams for the study of matter in the realms of soft and hard condensed matter, biology, magnetism, materials science, nuclear and particle physics.

She obtained her first degree at the University Federico II of Naples in Italy and a DPhil from the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory of the University of Oxford, UK. As from 2016 she holds the Chair Grands Instruments Européens at the University Grenoble Alpes.

She investigates surfaces and interfaces with special emphasis to the structure of model biological membranes, characterised with reflectivity techniques using neutron beams or synchrotron radiation, as well as interactions of lipid bilayers with cholesterol, peptides, proteins, enzymes, cationic lipoplexes, nanoparticles.

She was awarded the 2006 BTM Willis Prize of The Institute of Physics and Royal Society of Chemistry for her research work on biomembranes and the 2023 Darsh Wasan award from the Journal of Colloids and Interface Science for outstanding achievements in colloids and interface science. She is editor-in-chief of the European Physical Journal E and author of >220 publications in peer-reviewed journals.

She is actively involved in promoting a better gender balance in science.


The understanding of the function of cellular membranes requires the study of their structure and dynamics. Cellular membranes are complex assemblies of lipids and proteins. In particular, the lipid scaffold is composed by a large variety of lipid species and levels of chain unsaturation, often difficult to synthesise chemically. Because of this complexity, model membrane systems from simple lipid bilayers are often used for fundamental studies and those can profit from probes able to access different scales of size and time like thermal neutrons and synchrotron radiation. Since the pioneering neutron scattering work in the seventies on cell membrane structure, developments driven by constantly improving neutron instrumentation, coupled with development of measurement and analysis methods, have involved both the optimisation of samples towards more biologically relevant model systems including the use of more and more complex lipid mixtures up to natural extracts.

Here, we will focus on developments made in the last decades on developing model membrane systems for structural studies with neutron scattering techniques and their use in interaction with different molecules of biological relevance.

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