Meeting report

Workshop on the application of synchrotron radiation in macromolecular crystallography

Cairo, Egypt, November 29 - December 2, 2006

[Winick]Herman Winick (An early proponent of SESAME)
The objectives of this workshop were to:

  • Expose the scientific community (especially students) in Egypt and SESAME member countries to the practical aspects of macromolecular crystallography. The hope was that through such exposure, the value of the technique will be appreciated and an interest in the field will be developed and propagated.
  • Show that developing SESAME labs in each member state is feasible especially for crystallization, data processing and analysis.
  • Start a nucleus for a SESAME lab in Egypt for sample preparations and computational analysis.

[Tronrud]Dale Tronrud (trying to run CCP4 on an unfamiliar Linux)
Mohammad Yousef coordinated the workshop. With the help of the scientific committee, he put together a program of lectures and practical sessions, chose the speakers and arranged for needed materials and software. The program consisted of three days of lectures (morning) and practical secessions (afternoon). The first day focused on sample preparation and crystallization, the second day covered data processing and analysis, and the third day was spent on refinement, model building and bioinformatics. The faculty of Science, Cairo University provided a modern wet lab and a well equipped computational facility for the workshop. Dale Tronrud (USA), Paul Tucker (Germany), Bill Duax (USA), Robert Heuther (USA), Zain Heba (Egypt), Said Abdelfattah (Egypt), Mohammad Yousef (Egypt/Japan), and Herman Winick (USA) were the main speakers.

[Hands-on experiment]Hands-on experiment, sample handling and protein crystallization
The practical sessions were very successful. The students, for the first time in Egypt and the Arab world, were able to experience the different steps of a protein crystallography experiment. They started with the crystallization of hen egg white lysozyme and proceeded to data analysis and model building. The students worked in groups of 2-3 persons to allow them sufficient “hands-on” experience. Bill Duax and Robert Heuther gave lectures and practical sessions on Bioinformatics that attracted a lot of attention. Many thanks are due to Dale Tronrud who was critical to the success of the workshop. He was instrumental in setting up the hardware and installed, tested and ran the software. He also gave two insightful lectures.

[Bio-computational lab]The bio-computational lab in the Faculty of Science, Cairo University. Dale Tronrud is in the far front.
Follow up and future plans: The computational and wet labs used for the workshop are the first step in the establishment of a SESAME center of excellence in Egypt. More than a dozen highly qualified students showed interest in continuing their graduate career in the field of synchrotron science. Arrangements will be made to start them on masters or Ph.D programs with the available resources.

[Yousef with students] Mohammad Yousef helping students process X-ray diffraction images.
In the workshop, students learned how to use the programs needed to process synchrotron data on protein structures and attempt structure determination. Any crystallographer in the world who would like to support the SESAME project and is willing to provide unprocessed synchrotron data on a protein to beginning crystallography students in Egypt or other SESAME member countries should contact M. Yousef (yousef@post.kek.jp). Data on solved, published structures would be useful as exercises, but data on unsolved sturctures could be the basis for international collaboration and a richer, more rewarding, exercise.

Mohammad Yousef and Tarek Hussein