Meeting report

Practical workshops for young biocrystallographers at the Poznan BioXHIT TID Centre

Poznan, Poland, November 27 - December 9, 2005

[Poznan attendees]

[TID cake]A TID cake with a sweet puzzle for the participants
For two weeks, the Center for Biocrystallographic Research (CBB, www.man.poznan.pl/CBB) at the Inst. of Bioorganic Chemistry, Polish Acdemy of Sciences in Poznan, Poland, was swarming with young people from different European countries, bustling about performing protein purification and crystallization, collecting and processing X-ray diffraction data, and trying to solve and model protein structures. In this fashion, the Poznan Training, Implementation and Dissemination (TID) Centre of the European BioXHIT Project (icarus.embl-hamburg.de/bioxhit) inaugurated its operation. BioXHIT is a unique project in the field of structural genomics, funded by the European Union, with a mission to consolidate the efforts of the existing European facilities and software developers for high-throughput structure determination. The results are disseminated through its TID Centres. By targeting young people, the TID Centres should ensure that there will be qualified cadres for researchers for structural genomics efforts in all European regions. In the two TID Workshops held in Poznan, all participants were at a graduate or postgraduate level. In the first workshop, there were participants from Poland (9), Lithuania (1), Russia (3), Ukraine (1), Slovakia (2), Czech Republic (2), Germany (1), Sweden (1), France (2), Spain (1), and Portugal (1). The 24 places in the second workshop were filled by a group of Ph.D. students from the European doctoral training network called ADOPT and from the International Max-Planck Research School, both coordinated from Cologne. The training program consisted of nine lectures and six practical sessions in which the students, divided into small groups, could gain hands-on experience with all the essential experimental steps leading from a crude protein preparation to the most refined product – its crystal structure. In addition to the local staff (Grzegorz Bujacz, Wojtek Rypniewski, Michal Sikorski), the teaching team included some of the best European experts in structural genomics. A contingent of instructors from the EMBL Hamburg Outstation included Paul Tucker (overview of structural genomics with synchrotron radiation), Jochen Mueller-Dieckmann (high-throughput crystallization), Sasha Popov (the BEST data collection strategy), and Santosh Panjikar and Venkataraman Parthasarathy (the AutoRickshaw pipeline). There were two instructors from Warsaw, Michal Dadlez overviewing the applications of mass spectrometry for structural genomics and Matthias Bochtler teaching about molecular replacement and model building. A great help in the crystallization tutorials was our young colleague, Robert Kolodziejczyk. It was a real pleasure to host, as a special guest, Zbyszek Dauter, who was able to donate two weeks out of his busy schedule at the APS synchrotron center in Chicago to teach about optimal data processing and extraction of phasing signals. The students were housed and instructed under one roof, and they seemed to enjoy the workshops and the practical aspects, skillfully arranged by Joanna Stepkowska. One evening of each workshop was reserved for a cultural program (concert of organ music) and for a gala dinner. For the instructors, it was a gratifying experience to work with highly motivated and enthusiastic young people. We hope that the efforts will have a lasting effect, both for the education of a new generation of biocrystallographers and for their integration into our community. The Poznan TID Centre will continue its training mission, with workshops planned for 2006 and 2007.

Mariusz Jaskolski, Poznan