History of the IUCr Commission on Structural Chemistry

Establishment of a Commission on "Small Molecules"

After the IUCr Congress in Ottawa in 1981 there were grumblings within the small molecule community that "disproportionately few oral sessions were devoted to small molecule structural analysis and those were relegated to the last days of the meeting when protein crystallographers had departed and most attendees were exhausted". To correct this perceived injustice a band of rogue small moleculers (Duax, Flippen-Anderson, Neidle and Stezowski) organized a grass roots movement to establish an IUCr Commission dedicated to "small" molecules. They contacted as many National Committees as possible in an effort to generate enough support to get their proposal on the agenda for the IUCr meeting in Hamburg in 1984. Response from the National Committees was favorable enough to get the proposal on the agenda. From the beginning there was much discussion on what the commission should be called and what topics it should encompass. All small molecules? Only biological molecules? How "big" is "small"?

Lively discussion on naming the Commission and what it should include continued, even at the Congress itself [Acta Cryst. (1987), A43, 438-439], but the end result was that the establishment of the Commission on Small Molecules was officially at the 13th General Assembly in Hamburg.

The terms of reference for the Commission are:

(a) to advise the IUCr on organizing or sponsoring sessions on small-molecule structural analysis at Congresses and conferences;

(b) to promote and coordinate scientific exchange between countries in the field of small-molecule structural analysis;

(c) to cooperate with the Commissions of the Union on matters dealing with small-molecule structural analysis;

(d) to cooperate with other international bodies concerned in small-molecule structural analysis.

Later in the Assembly the size of the Commission was increased to have a Chairperson and 10 elected members. This was approved only for the 1984-1987 triennium and the Commission was subsequently reduced to a Chairperson and 8 members. Today the Commission is composed of a Chair, 9 members, and 8 consultants.

The first Chair of the Commission was John Stezowski. He was followed by Bill Duax, Frank Herbstein, Karl Kruger, Judy Flippen-Anderson, Lee Brammer and currently Alessia Bacchi.

The name of the Commission was officially changed to the Commission on Structural Chemistry at the 17th General Assembly in Seattle. The terms of reference have not changed.