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The Oncley Lecture
Recent Successes of the Energy Landscape Theory of Protein Folding
Protein folding can be understood as a biased search on a funneled but rugged energy landscape. This picture can be made quantitative using the statistical mechanics of glasses and first order transitions in mesoscopic systems. The funneled nature of the protein energy landscape is a consequence of natural selection. I will discuss how this rather simple picture quantitatively predicts folding mechanism from native structure and sequence. I will also discuss recent advances using energy landscape ideas to create algorithms capable of predicting protein tertiary structure from sequence, protein binding sites and the nature of structurally specific protein misfolding relevant to disease.