2019 George Palade Award
New York Structural Biology Center
Alex Noble earned his BS in Physics and BA in Applied Mathematics from UC San Diego and his MS and PhD in Physics at Florida State University. He is currently an NIH Kirschstein Postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Bridget Carragher and Clint Potter at the Simons Electron Microscopy Center (SEMC) in the New York Structural Biology Center. He is broadly focused on developing, distributing, and applying methods that further the progress of the cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) field and individual cryoEM projects, along with applying those methods himself to specific biological systems. Each focus is driven by a motivation to make positive biomedical and thus humanitarian impacts. As a graduate student, he investigated a model of a coat protein complex II cage by combining cryoEM, hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry, and molecular modelling. Beginning as a graduate student and continuing into his postdoctoral training, he develops and maintains software, Appion-Protomo, that enables researchers of all experience levels to process cryo-electron tomography (cryoET) images without the need for additional sample or imaging optimization. As a postdoctoral fellow in a highly-collaborative environment, he has illuminated and investigated a long-standing and widespread problem with single particle cryoEM sample preparation that has numerous broad implications – protein adsorption to the air-water interface. Through collaborative efforts internal and external to SEMC, he investigated solutions to this problem in the form of cryoEM grid freezing techniques (the Spotiton grid preparation robot) and sample detergent optimization. His postdoctoral fellowship, spurred by a fruitful cryoET collaboration, seeks to understand the structural behavior of type II cadherins on membranes, which are a set of cell adhesion molecules with several pathological implications if malformed. His current investigations and efforts also include several projects designed to obtain three-dimensional cryoET structures of cellular interiors using cryo-focused ion beam preparation, developing and overseeing deep learning applications in cryoEM/ET, assisting cryoET users at SEMC, and leading cryoET training workshops.