On and Off Campus Activities in Bioorganic/Biological Chemistry

Graduate Training Programs:

Graduate students in the Gelb Group are members of the following graduate education programs at the University of Washington :


Department of Chemistry

Department of Biochemistry

Biomolecular Structure and Design

Molecular and Cellular Biology.


Volcano Conference in Chemical Biology

[Having Fun on Mt. Rainier]

The first Volcano Conference in Chemical Biology was held in Feb. 1991 at Pack Forest. Attendees are standing in front of Pack Hall which houses the poster session and a variety of antique lumbering equipment used before the turn of the century.


           25th Anniversary of the Volcano Conference (2016)

In 1991, Prof. Steve Withers (Univ. of British Columbia) and Prof. M. Gelb put together a conference in bioorganic chemistry. This annual event is typically held on the last weekend in February or the first weekend in March, at Pack Forest, a rustic lumber camp just outside of Mt. Rainer National Park (hence the name Volcano Conference). The conference is attended by students, postdocs, and faculty from universities in the Pacific Northwest (US and Canada) (typically 100 people). A researcher from each lab gives a lecture on their research efforts, and there is a plenary lecture by a well known professor from a university outside of the Pacific Northwest and one by a scientist from chemical/biochemical industry. A poster session enables all conference attendees to present and discuss their research. Saturday afternoon is left open for cross country skiing at Paradise in Rainier National Park or other activities, and following the Saturday evening scientific session there is a game event in which faculty and postdocs take on graduate students

List of Past Keynote Speakers

Volcano Conference 2019: This year's Volcano Conference will be from March 1 through March 3, 2019, at Pack Forest.  The 2019 keynote speaker will be Professor Jennifer Cochran, the Shriram Chair of Bioengineering and Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University.  Please contact Catherine Holliday for further details.

Information about Pack Forest (facilities, how to get there, etc...)


Bioorganic and Biochemical Courses

There are several courses at UW that are geared toward bioorganic and biological chemists. Rather than listing all of them here, please consult the UW catalog. Some highlights are: a graduate course in Chemical Biology including a lab to familiarize chemists to modern molecular biological techniques, bioorganic chemistry of enzymes and natural products; structure/function of proteins; structure-based drug design; computational chemistry in biology. In addition, all of the Departments and Programs at UW that have a graduate program offer graduate-level course series (organic chemistry, biochemistry, medicinal chemistry, bioengineering, pharmacology, molecular and cellular biology, biological structure). As with many major universities, there is a large collection of seminars on campus that cover cutting-edge research.

Gelb Lab Educational Experiences

Lab group meetings are held once per week to discuss lab business and for members to provide a summary of their recent research. Project group meetings dealing with the various research areas (i.e. interfacial enzymology, structure-based drug design, etc.) are held every 2-4 weeks.

All of the research grants written by Gelb are critically discussed at a group meeting prior to grant submission, which provides a way for lab members to develop grant writing skills. Along the same lines, initial drafts of all publications are written by the lab members who carried out the research. This provides lab members with manuscript writing skills. When possible, authors of review articles include lab members that have been closely associated with the review topic.

All lab members are expected to provide technical and intellectual assistance to other lab members that have questions. In this way, the multiple talents of the collection of lab members can be readily spread among all participants.

Every effort is made to send each lab member to at least one or two major scientific conferences in which they present a lecture or poster.

Coursework Material

Please feel free to contact Professor Gelb if you have any questions about the program or if you want to discuss research areas in more detail.


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Last updated 10/12/00