Meeting report

Young people’s guide to ACA - LA

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The 2001 American Crystallographic Assn meeting in Los Angeles was my first. I found the seminars to be informative and intriguing, and I enjoyed the opportunity to network with my colleagues and peers. My poster presentation allowed me to gain fresh perspectives and to engage in beneficial dialogue about my research. This meeting was one of the highlights in my career and I look forward to furthering my relationships and educational opportunities at the next meeting. (S. Nadaraia, U. of Missouri, Columbia)

Monday was the day I found most revealing as it included the Transactions symposium on high throughput crystallography. These talks made me realize for the first time just how much money is going into structural genomics. The automation available, robots which can grow your protein, purify it, crystallize it and mount in on the synchrotron beam line is amazing. Add to this programs like Arp/Warp and, in future, crystallography may be reduced to pressing a button. However, one couldn’t help but feel that the most difficult proteins, i.e. those that are insoluble and membrane associated are being neglected by structural genomics. Sometimes I had difficulty choosing between simultaneous sessions, which is better than having no interesting talks to choose from. This is often the situation in meetings where most talks are dedicated to either small molecules and physics or molecular biology. (V. Tuominen, Turku Centre for Biotechnology)

The greatest opportunity for me was to present our results and ideas on a new class of metal-organic frameworks we currently explore at the Nat’l Research Council of Canada. What started in 1997 from a single discovery at the Steacie Inst. for Molecular Sciences, has led to dozens of useful host receptors incorporating chelated metal complexes, hundreds of new supramolecular materials and several new ideas for Crystal Engineering. This is why I felt especially honored to receive the Margaret Etter Award. I would be happy to believe that my attendance at the conference was as useful to the society as it was useful to me. (D.V. Soldatov, Steacie Inst. for Molec. Sci, NRC)

Challenging crystallographic problems will override the automation of crystal structure determination and require a crystallographers skills. No matter how advanced technology is, an understanding of crystallographic concepts such as the reciprocal lattice, Ewald sphere, space groups, symmetry, twin laws and the phase problem will be required. J.P. Glusker’s illustrations helped me a lot her approach to teaching crystallography to the students was the most fascinating part of the meeting. (Babu A. Manjasetty, U. California, Santa Cruz)

From the ACA Newsletter, Winter 2001