Utrecht by Ramon Smits

SMALP 2020 Conference in the USA

The SMALP 2020 Conference is being organized by Youzhong Guo and Michael Overduin and will be held next March in the USA, details will be announced shortly.

SMALP 2019 Conference in Utrecht

The SMALP 2019 Conference was held at Utrecht Science Park on Friday April 26, 2019. Discussion focussed on the latest developments in polymer chemistry, methods and applications in membrane biology, biophysics and structural biology and explore new alternatives.

The 125 participants gathered to form the world's largest native nanodisc. With a diameter of over 7 meter the SMALP included red-orange protein, blue-green lipid and grey-black polymer components:


Vincent Postis, Leeds Beckett University, focuses on functional and structural characterisation of membrane transporters, and develops techniques including SMALP methods to improve membrane protein production and crystallisation, including the design of automated methods for the high throughput cloning, expression, 2D & 3D crystallisation and elucidation of membrane protein structures by cryo-EM. He is also Editor In Chief at Molecular Membrane Biology.

Tony Watts focuses on how biological membranes and GPCRs work using a range of biophysical methods from magnetic resonance to microscopy, functional assays and simulation.


Karen Edler , Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Bath and member of the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies, Centre for Nanoscience & Nanotechnology and Centre for Biosensors, Bioelectronics and Biodevices focuses on the formation of functional, hierarchically structured materials in order to design new materials including micelles, nanoparticles, polymers using self-assembly in solution and at interfaces.

Siewert Jan Marrink, Head of Molecular Dynamics Group, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Groningen is unravelling the lateral organization principles of biological membranes, and developing efficient computational models to simulate molecular processes. He is the Director of the Berendsen Center for Multiscale Modeling and Material Design, an European Research Council Advanced Grant awardee and organizer of Martini Workshops.

Bob Gennis, Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studies the structure and mechanisms of prokaryotic respiratory enzymes that generate a membrane potential, and recently published on the Structure of the alternative complex III (ACIII) from Flavobacterium johnsoniae in SMA copolymer nanodiscs by cryoEM.


Sandro Keller, Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Vice Dean, Faculty of Biology, University of Kaiserslautern and Associate Editor, Biophysics Section, Journal of Membrane Biology, studies the design, assembly and exchange dynamics of SMA and DIBMA based lipid particles.

Bert Klumperman is holder of the South African Research Chair on Advanced Macromolecular Architectures at the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University. He investigates nano-structured materials for biomedical applications, conducts mechanistic and kinetic studies of radical polymerisation processes, and performs exploratory polymer chemistry for advanced applications.


Adrian Kopf, PhD student in the group of Membrane Biochemistry and Biophysics, at Utrecht University in the Netherlands is investigating the influence of comonomer composition and length on membrane solubilization to form SMALP (native) nanodiscs.

Irina Smirnova, Ph.D, researcher, Stockholm University, investigates mechanism of energy conservation by terminal oxidases from pro- and eukaryotes. With a help of SMA, pure and active cytochrome c oxidase surrounded by native lipids was isolated from mitochondria of baker yeast and directly incorporated into liposomes without a usage of detergents.

Zoe Stroud, PhD student at the School of Biosciences in the University of Birmingham is funded by the BBSRC in the area of industrial biotechnology and will present on SMALPing the Divisome: Characterisation of the FtsBL Subcomplex.

Weihua Qiu, postdoctoral research scientist, at Virginia Commonwealth University, is interested in the structural and functional study of membrane proteins. Recently she solved the structure of a native cell membrane lipid bilayer, as published in PNAS.

Nathan Brady, PhD candidate in the department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology at The University of Tennessee Knoxville, will present Photosystem I Native Nanodiscs: Preserving the Powerplant of the Planet with SMALPs.

Giulia Weissenberger, applications engineer at CryoSol-World, contributing to the rapidly advancing world of cryoEM in the search and resolution of near-atomic structures, previous research on infectious disease and the design and purification of recombinant proteins for vaccine and rapid assay development in the USA,and a master’s in Biomedical Engineering from Eindhoven University of Technology.

Industry Panel

Kacee H. Sims, Ph.D.
Marketing Technical Specialist
Avanti Polar Lipids, Inc.



maya wrightMaya Wright, Ph.D., Applications Scientist at Fluidic Analytics will present Introducing Microfluidic diffusional sizing (MDS), a novel technique for evaluating SMALP nanodisc formation.


Jan Kubicek on Chatting out of the sewing box: membrane protein service at Cube Biotech GmbH. Jan has a PhD in biology from the University of Duesseldorf/Helmholtz Research Center Juelich, post-doc'd in Juelich on crystallization of membrane proteins, co-developing the Controlled in Meso Phase Crystallization (CIMP) method for membrane protein crystallization.

Stefan Scheidelaar, Ph.D.
SMA Chemist & Technical Product Manager
Polyscope Polymers B.V. M


Edward E. Pryor, Ph.D.
Director of Business Development – Proteomics
Senior Applications and Product Specialist
Anatrace / Molecular Dimensions will speak on "Breaking the mold: Detergent free solutions from a historically detergent-only company"


Antoinette Killian, Professor at Utrecht University, heads the research group Membrane Biochemistry & Biophysics and aims to understand interactions between membrane proteins and lipids. She explores SMA as a tool to study these interactions using model systems as well as biological membranes.

Tim Dafforn, Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Birmingham and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, co-invented the SMALP system for research into membrane proteins by methods including SANS, SAXS and cEM, and presented SMALPs: polymers, lipids and proteins.


Michael Overduin, Professor, Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta is developing novel amphipathic polymers and methods to solubilize and study native membrane protein complexes including infectious prions and beta barrels.


Additional SMALP-related Meetings

2nd UK workshop (University of Leeds) on membrane proteins: solubilisation and biophysical characterisation. This three day training event from April 3-5, 2019 is aimed towards early career researchers and will focus on characterisation of membrane proteins and the use of an SMA approach. Topics will include, solubilisation and purification, cryoEM, crystallography, mass spectrometry, EPR and computational modelling.

Past SMALP Meetings:

Overcoming Bottlenecks in Membrane Biology

Max Bell Auditorium, Banff Conference Centre on April 11, 2018.

Download the Program (PDF)

The SMALP community assembled into native nanodiscs with red, blue, black and white clothed people indicating protein, lipid, styrene and maleic acid components, respectively.

Nanoparticle Technologies for Membrane Protein Research Meeting

Location: Leeds Beckett University, UK

Dates: June 27-28, 2017

Organizers: Tim Dafforn, Sarah Lee, Naomi Pollock, Vincent Postis

Speakers: Steve Sligar, Bonnie Wallace, Tim Dafforn, Sandro Keller, Tony Watts

South African SMALP Meeting 2017

Location: Stellenbosch, South Africa

Dates: April 10-13, 2017

Format: During the UNESCO/IUPAC Conference

Organized by Bert Klumperman, South African Research Chair in Advanced Macromolecular Architectures at the Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science at Stellenbosch University

Berkeley SMALP Conference 2017

Location: Berkeley, California, USA

Date: March 24, 2017

Organizers: Tomas Laursen, Jana Broecker and Michael Overduin

Program and Flyer


Toronto SMALP Conference 2016

Location: Hart House Music Room, University of Toronto

Date: Friday April 29, 2016

Timetable: SMA training workshop from 8:00am (free activated SMA provided) and a lively, interactive meeting from 9:00am - 5:00pm

See the Event Flyer, Attendee List and Programme

SMALP 2016 Conference attendees. The red sweaters represent protein, others are lipids.
toronto smalp group 2016