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International Union of Crystallography

The IUCr is an International Scientific Union adhering to the International Science Council. Its objectives are to promote international cooperation in crystallography and to contribute to all aspects of crystallography, to promote international publication of crystallographic research, to facilitate standardization of methods, units, nomenclatures and symbols, and to form a focus for the relations of crystallography to other sciences.

IUCr Newsletter




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Olga Kennard awarded twelfth Ewald Prize

[Olga Kennard and PP Ewald]
Olga Kennard (left) with Paul Peter Ewald at the Ninth IUCr Congress in Kyoto, Japan, in 1972.

We are delighted to announce that the twelfth Ewald Prize has been awarded to Olga Kennard (Cambridge, UK) for her invaluable pioneering contribution to the development of crystallographic databases, in particular the Cambridge Structural Database (CSD), which as she early foresaw, has led "… to the discovery of new knowledge which transcends the results of individual experiment". Her own surveys using the CSD were fundamental in the development of crystal engineering, and are outstanding examples of the use of crystallographic databases as an essential tool for analysis and prediction. As founder of the CSD, director of the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) over decades, and being involved in the founding of the Protein Data Bank (PDB), Olga Kennard has made a fundamental impact on the development of modern crystallography.

A small delegation, including the IUCr President, Sven Lidin, and IUCr staff, will present Dr Kennard with the Ewald Prize once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, and a representative will deliver Dr Kennard's Ewald Prize Lecture during the Prague Congress Opening Ceremony on 14 August 2021.

Dr Kennard told the IUCr that she is "enormously grateful for this, totally unexpected, recognition – through the Ewald Prize – of both my own work and the contribution of the many scientists who collaborated with me over many years". See a congratulatory message from Professor Lidin here, and read an account of Dr Kennard's life and work as told to the IUCr here.

For a list of papers by Dr Kennard appearing in IUCr journals click here. She also published a paper in the second issue of Acta Crystallographica in 1948 under her maiden name, Weisz.

Posted 31 Jul 2020 

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Crystallographers unite to tackle coronavirus

With stories about coronavirus dominating the news, it is encouraging to hear that crystallographers around the world are making strong contributions to the efforts to find a vaccine. Here are some that we have heard about. We would be very pleased to hear about more via IUCr social media.

[Jason McLellan Fox News]

At the University of Texas (UT) at Austin, USA, Jason McLellan has used cryo-EM to determine the structure of the coronavirus spike protein. After Chinese scientists released the sequence of the new coronavirus, Dr McLellan and his team engineered a variant of the spike protein to increase its stability and expression for study, and ordered the nucleic acid to be synthesized for the modified spike protein. Within 25 days of receiving the engineered nucleic acid, they cloned the gene, expressed the protein, isolated it, used the UT Austin's cryo-EM facility to determine the structure and submitted their paper to Science, where it has already been published. IUCr Immediate Past President, Marvin Hackert, used the coordinates from Dr McLellan to produce a 3D printed model, which was shown by Dr McLellan on US national news.

Meanwhile, the recent Joint Polish–German Crystallographic Meeting in Wroclaw, Poland, started with a Plenary Lecture by Rolf Hilgenfeld (University of Lübeck, Germany) entitled “From SARS to MERS and the 2020 Wuhan pneumonia virus – How X-ray crystallography can help fight emerging viruses.” Results were presented that had only been obtained that day. More on these stories will be published in the forthcoming issue of the IUCr Newsletter.

IUCr Journals support the policies outlined in the 2016 joint statement on data sharing in public health emergencies, and will ensure that any research findings of relevance are rapidly shared with the World Health Organization. It is recommended that diffraction data related to coronavirus should be deposited as requested in the IUCrJ paper "Findable Accessible Interoperable Re-usable (FAIR) diffraction data are coming to protein crystallography" by J. R. Helliwell, W. Minor, M. S. Weiss, E. F. Garman, R. J. Read, J. Newman, M. J. van Raaij, J. Hajdu and E. N. Baker.

As a resource for coronavirus and COVID-19 research, a virtual issue containing all of the articles and abstracts on coronaviruses published in IUCr journals is available here. Leading this free-to-read collection is a recent Editorial by Ted Baker, written "to applaud the energy and skill of the [SARS-CoV-2] researchers, and their public spirit in sharing their results."

Read what the winners of the 2020 W. H. and W. L. Bragg Prize for outstanding early-career crystallographers are doing to help combat COVID-19 in interviews with James Fraser and Jean-Philippe Julien.

More contributions:

https://www.aps.anl.gov/APS-News/2020-03-02/new-coronavirus-protein-reveals-drug-target/2020-03-02/new-coronavirus-protein

https://www.dailytargum.com/article/2020/03/rutgers-professor-explains-coronavirus-research

https://www.diamond.ac.uk/covid-19.html

https://www.diamond.ac.uk/covid-19/for-scientists/Main-protease-structure-and-XChem.html

https://www.ebi.ac.uk/ena/pathogens/covid-19 

https://covid-19.bioreproducibility.org/

https://www.ebi.ac.uk/pdbe/covid-19 

https://www.ebi.ac.uk/pdbe/about/news/covid-19-data-pdbe-kb-pages-now-focused-around-specific-proteins 

  Updated 30 July 2020 
Posted 28 Feb 2020 

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Inaugural W. H. and W. L. Bragg Prize awarded to James Fraser and Jean-Philippe Julien

[James Fraser and JP Julien]

The 2020 W. H. and W. L. Bragg Prize for outstanding early-career crystallographers has been jointly awarded to James Fraser (left; Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at the University of California San Francisco, USA) and Jean-Philippe Julien [Senior Scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Associate Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Immunology at the University of Toronto, Canada] as a recognition of their scholarly achievements as well as their strong commitment to serve the crystallographic community.

The prize, which was established in 2017, celebrates the characters of the two Braggs, who actively encouraged young scientists, both women and men without discrimination, to pursue a career in crystallography. Their encouragement resulted in many young crystallographers achieving considerable distinction, including the Nobel Prize winners Dorothy Hodgkin, Max Perutz, John Kendrew, Francis Crick and James Watson. 

Dr Julien’s research activities have been focused on the determination of crystal structures of macromolecules of high medical relevance. His studies have made a huge impact on biological and medical sciences. In particular, he determined the first crystal structure of an intact HIV envelope trimer by X-ray crystallography as well as by cryo-EM. The insights gathered from this structure and the construct engineering now serve as the template in the worldwide community for HIV structure-based drug and vaccine design in the quest to curtail the HIV epidemic. Dr Julien has also determined the EM structure of a quaternary preferring antibody (PG9) in complex with the soluble SOSIP Env trimer. This work provided the first structural evidence that epitopes of broadly neutralizing antibodies are much more complex than thought. In this sense the corresponding publication in PNAS must be considered a paradigm-shifting publication. At present, Dr Julien’s independent research programme is focused on two major areas: (a) structure-based immunogen design for the development of an anti-malarial vaccine, and (b) structural delineation of B-cell receptors. With respect to the latter, he embarked on a completely new direction of structural investigation of B-cell co-receptors, on nanoparticles engineered to target these receptors, and on characterising antibody responses to malaria antigens to aid in vaccine design.

Dr Fraser’s research activities have been and are focused on studying the flexibility and conformational variability in macromolecules through experimental and computational methods. His research has provided new insights into how we can understand the role of protein flexibility in function through the use of crystallographic data. He has made seminal contributions to advancing the analysis of diffraction data in new directions, including the analysis of room-temperature and temperature-dependent data to gain insights into protein dynamics, studies of diffuse scattering from proteins, and the development of new experiments to exploit X-ray free-electron lasers in this field. The two main developments, room-temperature X-ray data collection and structural ensemble modeling into weak electron density, contributed synergistically to help reveal the structural basis of protein dynamics, moving away from static representations towards more realistic descriptions of how proteins populate conformational space. Dr Fraser’s innovative approaches contributed to translating fundamental discoveries in protein dynamics into improvement of protein engineering and drug design.

Drs Fraser and Julien will receive their award during the 25th IUCr Congress in Prague, Czech Republic, in August 2021, where they will share the presentation of a Keynote Lecture.

The pair, who coincidentally were undergraduates at McGill University (Montreal, Canada) at the same time, beat stiff competition to win the prize, and we would like to thank all nominees and their nominators and supporters. IUCr President, Sven Lidin, saluted the nominees as the future of this field, adding "reading and evaluating your work has shown us just how vibrant this branch of science is." See Sven's congratulatory message to the winners here.

The IUCr was pleased to be able to conduct (socially distanced) interviews with the winners about their life and work.

Read the full interview with James Fraser here.
Read the full interview with Jean-Philippe Julien here.

Posted 29 Jul 2020 

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Sven Hovmöller and Ute Kolb win 2020 Gjønnes Medal in Electron Crystallography

[Sven Hovmöller and Ute Kolb]

The IUCr Gjønnes Medal in Electron Crystallography has been awarded to Sven Hovmöller (left; Professor Emeritus, Stockholm University, Sweden) and Ute Kolb (Head, Centre for High Resolution Electron Microscopy, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz, Germany) for their pioneering work in the field of electron crystallography, particularly for developing 3D electron diffraction techniques.

In the 1990s, Sven Hovmöller and his group combined high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) images and zone-axis electron diffraction patterns for the solution of atomic structures. In 2007, Ute Kolb and her group developed the automated electron diffraction tomography (ADT) method, which allows the collection of 3D electron diffraction data suitable for structure analysis. As a result, atomic structures of many organic and inorganic crystals were solved. In 2008, Sven Hovmöller and his group suggested an alternative approach to collecting the 3D electron diffraction data – the Rotation Electron Diffraction (RED) method – which is also successfully used for the structure solution of complex structures, including proteins. Today, these methods are widely used by crystallographers all over the globe for the structure solution of new materials.

In addition to their outstanding scientific results, which were published in high-ranking international journals (e.g. Nature and Science), both scientists have been very active as organisers of international schools on electron crystallography over many years. Thus, they have had a crucial role in the formation of a generation of electron crystallographers.

Professors Hovmöller and Kolb will receive their award during the 25th IUCr Congress in Prague, Czech Republic, in August 2021, where they will share the presentation of a Keynote Lecture.

On hearing the news from Louisa Meshi, Chair of the IUCr Commission on Electron Crystallography, Sven said "I am very pleased and honoured to receive the Gjønnes Medal. I am especially happy to share this prize with Ute Kolb, who has made such great contributions to electron crystallography." Ute also expressed her delight and added "My best congratulations to you, Sven. I think you have deserved this for quite a long time." See a congratulatory message from Sven Lidin, IUCr President, here.

The IUCr was pleased to be able to conduct (socially distanced) interviews with the recipients about their life and work. Ute explained her inspiration as follows:

The electron diffraction method used to acquire data in [Ingrid Voigt-Martin's] group offered me the scope for development – by applying my knowledge of X-ray structure analysis to quantification of electron diffraction data, I was able to combine my passion for structure analysis with my love of crystallography

and Sven was equally enthusiastic:

Now that I am 72 and have retired, I can honestly say that I never was very interested in chemistry, BUT THE NUMBERS! I loved them and I still love to look through tables with thousands of lines and dozens of columns, such as you can get in crystallography. And knowing that there are unknown scientific rules and principles hidden inside these numbers – yours to find out if you can just decipher the numbers!

Read the full interview with Sven Hovmöller here.
Read the full interview with Ute Kolb here.

For a list of papers by Sven Hovmöller appearing in IUCr journals click here.
For a list of papers by Ute Kolb appearing in IUCr journals click here
Posted 27 Jul 2020 

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Prizes, Prizes, Prizes!

With the postponement of the 25th Congress and General Assembly of the IUCr until August 2021 in Prague, there will be a delay of a year before the Ewald Prize, the inaugural W. H. and W. L. Bragg Prize and the Commission on Electron Crystallography's Gjønnes Prize can be presented. The committees responsible for selecting the prize winners have each reached a conclusion and as there is a shortage of uplifting news available at present, the Executive Committee of the IUCr has decided that we should announce the winners of these prizes this year on the IUCr website, Newsletter and social media. Each announcement will be accompanied by interviews with the winner(s) and a short video from the IUCr President, starting with the 2020 Gjønnes Prize on Monday 27 July and followed by the inaugural W. H. and W. L. Bragg Prize on Wednesday 29 July and the Twelfth Ewald Prize on Friday 31 July. Be sure to come back on those dates to discover who the winners are and, amongst other things, what their greatest inspirations have been.

Posted 22 Jul 2020 

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Journal of Synchrotron Radiation: open call for new Main Editor to join leadership team

[JSR]The Journal of Synchrotron Radiation (JSR) is one of the 10 leading journals published by the IUCr. In this context, JSR provides comprehensive coverage of the entire field of synchrotron radiation and free-electron laser (FEL) research including instrumentation, theory, computing and scientific applications in areas such as biology, nanoscience and materials science. While presently a hybrid journal with both fully open-access papers and papers accessible on a traditional subscription basis, it is planned that JSR will become a 100% open-access research journal in the near future.

At this time, we seek a new Main Editor of JSR. The successful candidate will work with the existing JSR Main Editors, the entire JSR Editorial Board, its Managing Editor and staff in the IUCr Editorial Office in Chester, UK, as well as the IUCr Journals Editor-in-Chief, to take JSR through this important transition. The successful candidate will help provide dynamic leadership of JSR through a smooth transition to open access while maintaining its leading position in the publication of synchrotron- and FEL-based research across all relevant fields.

In addition to sharing in the editorial workload for papers submitted to JSR, the Main Editors provide leadership for the journal’s Editorial Board, scientific development and welfare. Working with the JSR Managing Editor and staff in Chester, the recently appointed IUCr Journals Commissioning Editors, and the Editor-in-Chief, the JSR Main Editors recruit new Co-editors, commission Lead and Feature Articles, as well as plan or commission Special Issues, including the recruitment of Special Issue Guest Editors. In all these aspects, please note that the IUCr is committed to improving gender and geographical balance while maintaining the highest scientific standards, and everyone associated with IUCr Journals is expected to respect these guidelines.

Appointment criteria for IUCr Journals Main Editors are given here, but some flexibility will be applied in appointing the best possible candidate at this time for what is anticipated to be a key role for pioneering the future of JSR, and IUCr Journals as a whole.

Please write in confidence by 31 August 2020 to the Editor-in-Chief (eic@iucr.org) and Executive Managing Editor (med@iucr.org), enclosing your CV, a list of your 20–25 most important publications, your vision for the future development of JSR in 500 words, and a full list of publications.

Posted 02 Jul 2020