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International Union of Crystallography

The IUCr is an International Scientific Union. Its objectives are to promote international cooperation in crystallography and to contribute to all aspects of crystallography, to promote international publication of crystallographic research, to facilitate standardization of methods, units, nomenclatures and symbols, and to form a focus for the relations of crystallography to other sciences.

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2017 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

nobel winners chemistry 2Richard Henderson, recent winner of the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr) Gjønnes Medal in Electron Crystallography and IUCrJ editorial board member, has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Jacques Dubochet, and Joachim Frank "for developing cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution".

In 1995, Henderson published a rigorous theoretical analysis of the potential of cryoEM of single particles to determine atomic resolution structures of randomly oriented macromolecules. He identified key barriers to progress, particularly the need to develop better electron detectors and improved computer programs for single particle image analysis. These methods, particularly the development of new direct electron detectors with higher detection efficiency, have revolutionized cryoEM as a mainstream structural biology tool, exemplified by IUCr’s decision to launch a cryoEM section in its premier journal IUCrJ.

Professor Samar Hasnain, Editor-in-Chief of IUCr Journals commented, “Henderson continues to lead in the development of cryoEM by helping to solve remaining barriers, namely (a) the need for higher detector DQE, (b) the need to reduce beam-induced specimen charging and motion, and (c) the deleterious effect of interaction of biological macromolecules with the air-water interface during plunge freezing”.

Professor Hasnain went on to say, “Henderson’s vision and ability to identify and solve key problems while focussing on an important biological problem has transformed cryoEM, which has been adopted by X-ray based structural biologists around the world”.

In August 2017 Richard delivered his Gjønnes medal lecture at the 24th Congress and General Assembly of the IUCr in Hyderabad, India. A video of his talk entitled “From electron crystallography to single particle cryoEM” can be viewed here.

You can see a full list of IUCr papers published by Richard Henderson by clicking here.

You can see a full list of IUCr papers published by Joachim Frank by clicking here.

Picture credit: MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Columbia University Medical College, AP
Posted 04 Oct 2017 

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[Dorothy Hodgkin]Dorothy Hodgkin - The Film

The Nobel Prize museum in Stockholm is producing a series of films about former Nobel Laureates, and they are looking for previously unpublished images and film of Dorothy.  If you have any you would be happy to share, or know someone who might, please contact Alex Ashcroft at execsec@iucr.org

Posted 04 Oct 2017 

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Ted Janssen 1936-2017

janssen2017On 29 September 2017, Emeritus Professor T. W. J. M. (Ted) Janssen passed away at the age of 81 years. Together with Aloysio Janner he was one of the founders of the superspace approach in crystal-structure analysis for the description of quasiperiodic crystals and modulated structures. Ted was a Co-editor for Acta Crystallographica Section A from 1993 to 2002, and was awarded the Aminoff prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science (with P. M. de Wolff and A. Janner) in 1988 and the tenth Ewald prize of the  International Union of Crystallography (with A. Janner) in 2014. Ted was highly respected for his ability to combine a deep knowledge of physics with a rigorous mathematical approach, and his work with Janner had a huge impact on the development of crystallography. He will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues in the crystallographic community. A full obituary will be published in due course.

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LAAMP at the World Science Forum

world science forumA thematic session sponsored by LAAMP and entitled "Light Sources and Crystallographic Sciences for Sustainable Development" has been approved to be part of the programme of the next World Science Forum.

The World Science Forum 2017 will be held at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre, Dead Sea (Jordan) on 7-11 November under the theme of "Science for Peace" and the high patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; János Áder, President of Hungary; Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO.

The thematic session "Light Sources and Crystallographic Sciences for Sustainable Development", co-organized by UNESCO, IUPAP and IUCr and sponsored by LAAMP is scheduled on Friday, 10 November, 11:30-13:00 hrs.

The overall objective of the session is to portray a scalable model for light sources initiatives in the developing regions. The outcome is designed to empower and inspire researchers, scientists, engineers and technologists, policy makers to take proactive roles in their countries and regions to drive towards a densified science cooperation to improve international relations between countries and to develop the human capacity that enable researchers in the Global South to get the most from light sources, and to be meaningful contributors to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

See our blog for more detail.

Posted 28 Sep 2017 

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IUCr bursary case study: Lanthanoid metal-organic frameworks

In 2016 alone, the IUCr sponsored 40 international meetings and schools. One recent recipient of an IUCr Young Scientist Award reveals the importance of these travel grants to their research and experience.

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) have been extensively studied with small organic molecules and transition metals, and in the past years more and more interest in developing MOFs with lanthanoids has emerged. Lanthanoids are a group of f-block metals with similar chemical behavior, and they tend to have larger coordination numbers and less strict bond directionality compared with d-block transition metals. As hard bases, lanthanoids tend to form coordination compounds with hard acids, and carboxylic acid derivatives are by far the most studied group of ligands. Practical applications for lanthanoid-MOFs (Ln-MOFs) have been studied, and these include, for example, small-molecule capture and storage, gas adsorption, catalysis and metal extraction.

In my PhD studies I have been concentrating on multipodal zwitterionic ligands, which possess carboxylate functionality and thus can be used in Ln-MOFs as organic linkers. The backbone of these linkers is an aromatic center joined by two or more methylene bridges to pyridinecarboxylic acids, which in turn have several substituent configurations available, leading to various isomers. Pyridinecarboxylic acid groups can have several different spatial orientations with respect to the aromatic center because of the freely rotating methylene bridges, and if the ligand has been synthesized from, say, nicotinic acid (3-pyridinecarboxylic acid), there are even more directions for the carboxylic acid to coordinate to, than in the case of isonicotinic acid (4-pyridinecarboxylic acid). One problem associated with high degrees of freedom in these Ln-MOF systems is that they tend to crystallize in several different crystal systems and have different types of disorder within the structure.

The bursary towards attending the 16th BCA/CCG Intensive Teaching School in X-ray Structure Analysis (Durham, UK; 25 March-2 April 2017; http://community.dur.ac.uk/durham.x-ray-school/index.html) was crucial for me to gain new insights in the fundamentals of X-ray crystallography. As my materials in question are intrinsically crystalline, X-ray crystallography is the most powerful way to gain information from MOFs. The contents of the course helped me to critically assess my own work up to this point in a new way, and I gained many new pieces of information to aid my further studies.

Antti Tiihonen, MSc, Department of Chemistry, U. of Jyväskylä, Finland

Posted 26 Sep 2017 

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Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography 2018

Fri, Sep 15, 2017 08:00 CET

pietgrosThe Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Gregori Aminoff Prize in Crystallography 2018 to Professor Piet Gros from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, “for his fundamental contributions to understanding the complement system-mediated innate immune response”. The prize amount is SEK 100,000.

The complement system, which is part of our immune system, plays an important role in the body’s defences against bacteria and viruses. This year’s Laureate has made revolutionary discoveries in this field.

When the complement system is activated, more than 30 different proteins interact in a highly intricate cascade-like manner. Professor Piet Gros has succeeded in producing crystals from many complement proteins and determining their three-dimensional structures. He has also studied the complicated protein complexes formed by these proteins and succeeded in clarifying their three-dimensional structures. Through his research, Piet Gros has been able to describe in detail the molecular mechanisms that lead to the activation of the complement system and which explain this protein system’s effects on the immune system.

Congenital and acquired defects in the complement system have recently proven to be the cause of many different medical conditions, so detailed knowledge of the molecular mechanisms that are part of the complement system is therefore vital.

Piet Gros’ research is potentially of significant medical importance; the structural information that has been produced is a foundation for the development of new treatments for various autoimmune, inflammatory and degenerative diseases.

Piet Gros’ research group has been world-leading in this field and is responsible for most of the structural knowledge of this important and complex protein system.

The Prize Ceremony will be held at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ Annual Meeting on 13 April 2018.

The Prize Lecture will be held on 12 April, at Lund University, Skåne University Hospital in Malmö.

This press release and image is taken from The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences website. The link to the original press release can be found here.
You can see a full list of IUCr papers published by Professor Gros by clicking here
Posted 15 Sep 2017