Meeting report

Heart of Europe bio-Crystallography

Zagan, Poland, September 2011

[HEC14 logo]
[Attendees] Participants of the HEC-14 Meeting (photo Milosz Ruszkowski).

Protein crystallographers from Poland, Czech Republic, Germany and Austria gathered for the 14th Heart of Europe bio-Crystallography Meeting (HEC-14) in late September 2011. The meeting venue was chosen by Mariusz Jaskolski and his co-organizers from the Polish Academy of Science and the Polish Synchrotron Radiation Society, since Johannes Kepler, the famous astronomer (1571-1630), spent the last years of his life in Zagan (Sagan). In his opening remarks, Mariusz pointed out that Johannes Kepler’s book: 'De Nive Sexangula' ('On the Six-Cornered Snowflake'), published 400 years ago in 1611, foresaw concepts of modern crystallography. As a tribute to this accomplishment, and also in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Laue experiment, the venue was perfect for a crystallographic meeting. The meeting provided a platform for both students and experienced researchers to share recent results on a wide range of bio-crystallographic studies. At the heart of the gathering were 32 short scientific talks given by either PhD students or young postdoctoral researchers. With only slightly more than 100 participants, HEC-14 succeeded in maintaining a family atmosphere and preserving the original HEC founding idea, namely to provide ample room for experienced and less experienced students to discuss ideas and solutions to individual crystallographic problems and questions. The official HEC lecture was delivered by Zygmunt Derewenda (U. of Virginia, USA). Zygmunt pioneered the method of entropy reduction, which greatly improves the success rate for the crystallization of difficult proteins. His achievements became obvious as the meeting progressed, since quite a few speakers had used this method in their studies. The HEC prize for the best talk, which was a collection of several crystallography books generously provided by the IUCr, was awarded to Christoph Parthier (U. of Halle). Christoph showed that with protein crystallography, quite unexpected and detailed insights can be gained into the mechanism of enzymes without having to await the results from extensive enzymatic studies. The success and continuity of the HEC meetings would not be possible without the enthusiasm of all the participants and, of course, the commitment and dedication of the organizers. I therefore want to extend my thanks to Mariusz Jaskolski and his coworkers on behalf of all the attendees for this very enjoyable and highly successful meeting. We are also always grateful for the support from companies that make this annual meeting affordable and the European Crystallographic Assn (ECA) that sponsored nine one-year ECA memberships and bursaries for attendance of young crystallographers. We may not be sure where the HEC meetings will be heading over the next 400 years, but there is certainly more road ahead for the bio-crystallography community in the heart of Europe.

Yves Muller