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23rd Heart of Europe Bio-Crystallography Meeting

Ivana Kutá Smatanová

The 23rd Heart of Europe Bio-Crystallography Meeting (HEC23) was due to take place in Vierzehnheilingen, Germany, in September 2020. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was postponed to the following year and finally took place in virtual mode (online) from 16 to 17 September 2021, organized by the group of Clemens Steegborn and his colleagues at the University of Bayreuth, Germany. Ten companies provided support for the meeting, and the European Crystallographic Association (ECA) covered registration fees for six young participants. Two student presentations were awarded IUCr Journals Prizes.

The HEC23 meeting program gathered 42 speakers from 23 research groups, in total. They delivered 21 full lectures and 12 flash talks. There was also the HEC23 Lecture and a presentation focused on the next meeting, HEC24. Company representatives gave an additional seven lectures. Professor Steegborn opened the HEC23 meeting on Thursday at 1 pm and after welcome remarks, a new HEC group of Christian Roth from MPI Potsdam and a guest group of Birte Höcker from the Bayreuth University were introduced. There followed lectures divided into six sessions aimed at bacterial enzymes and regulators, nucleic acid and interacting proteins, drug development, pathogen proteins, molecular machines and techniques, technologies and applications. Dr Herbert Nar, the Director of Structural Research at Boehringer Ingelheim, gave the HEC23 Lecture on Thursday evening. He spoke about basic concepts of structural biology applications in drug development at big pharma and illustrated these concepts with recent project examples. He finished with possible future developments in the field such as HT single-particle cryo-EM or structure prediction methods based on artificial intelligence.

[Group photo]Group photo of real HEC23 participants in the virtual environment.

As a tradition, there was also a place for entertainment and personal exchange. Breakout rooms gave opportunities for visiting sponsors and chatting with friends as well as for a challenging quiz and Friday night dinner entertainment.

At the end of the meeting, IUCr Journals awarded prizes to two student presentations. Lena Maria Gras from the Marcus Wahl group (Germany) and Kristyna Adamkova from the Jan Dohnalek group (Czech Republic) received the IUCr Journal Prize for full and flash talks, respectively.

Finally, we would like to thank the organizers, sponsors and participants for a fascinating meeting and friendly atmosphere in the virtual environment.  

The next Heart of Europe Bio-Crystallography Meeting, HEC24, will take place in South Bohemia in the Hotel Resort Relax at Dolni Vltavice on the banks of Lipno Lake and near to the Sumava mountains. The date was set as 22–24 September 2022.

3 November 2021

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