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18th International Union of Crystallography Congress

[IUCr congress logo]As the Millennium draws to a close, August sees the United Kingdom playing host to the 18th IUCr Congress, which is expected to be the biggest yet with over 2500 delegates attending. The host city for the congress is Scotland's other great city, Glasgow, renowned for its hospitality and liveliness as well as boasting a wealth of cultural amenities and awards, including the title of UK City of Architecture and Design 1999. Running from 4th August until 13th, the Congress will take place at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), one of the most modern and attractive conference centres in Europe and conveniently located in the heart of Glasgow yet only 20 minutes from the International Airport. The Congress will present new and exciting advances in all areas of crystallography and will serve to highlight the crucial role played by crystallography in pushing back scientific frontiers across a wide spectrum of scientific disciplines.

The Congress lecture programme is split into 5 broad brush categories covering chemical, biological, theoretical/fundamental, materials and industrial applications of crystallography, with considerable overlap between these categories. This year however, industrial crystallography and its applications takes on a more prominent role with 14 'Industrial' micro-symposia being incorporated into the main body of the Congress (between 4th and 10th August) instead of satellite meetings as in previous years.
The programme schedule operates a 'sandwich' type structure. There will be two keynote lectures running in parallel both at the beginning and at the end of each day with the filling consisting of two sessions of six parallel microsymposia ­ one session in the morning and one in the afternoon. The middle of the day will be given over to the poster sessions and lunch, which can be enjoyed simultaneously in the main Exhibition Hall. All in all, delegates can look forward to 32 keynote lectures, 96 microsymposia and over 1,700 poster presentations during the nine day Congress. Would be astronomers have not been forgotten either. The programme will be suspended from 11-11.30am on the morning of 11th August to allow delegates to enjoy (Scottish weather permitting!) the 82% eclipse of the sun, which takes place at 11.16 that morning.

The opening speech of the Congress on the evening of the 4th will be given by Prof. Aaron Klug, president of the Royal Society, who will also chair the first plenary session. The scientific programme commences the following day. The keynote speakers will deliver lectures right across the spectrum of crystallographic science. Space constraints prevent a full listing here, but some of the highlights will include (in alphabetical order):

  • Elena Boldyreva (Inst. of Solid State Chemistry, Novosibirsk, Russia) ­ "Solid State Reactions" ­ Thursday 5th, p.m.
  • Jennifer Doudna (U. of Yale, USA) ­ "Crystal Structures of Ribosymes" ­ Wednesday 11th, p.m.
  • Jack Dunitz (ETH, Zurich) ­ The Bragg Lecture: "Polymorphism ­ The Same yet Different" ­ Saturday 7th, a.m.
  • Michele Parrinello (Max Planck Inst., Stuttgart, Germany) "Role and Perspectives of ab initio Molecular Dynamics in Crystallography" ­ Thursday 12th, a.m.
  • Jim Scott (U. of NSW, Australia) ­ "Crystallographic Aspects of Ferroelectric Memories" ­ Thursday 5th, a.m.
  • Paul Sigler(U. of Yale, USA) ­ "Chaperonin Assisted Protein Folding: The Final Step in Genetic Expression" ­ Saturday 7th, p.m.
  • Josh Thomas (U. of Uppsala, Sweden) ­ "Crystallography and the Lithium Ion Battery" ­ Sunday 8th, a.m.
  • Richard Welberry (ANU Canberra, Australia) ­ The Lonsdale Lecture: "Diffuse Scattering" ­ Saturday 7th, p.m.

The Microsymposia subject areas and array of presenting speakers are no less diverse, giving delegates a huge choice of topics. Titles range from: "Viruses and Viral Protein", "Drug Discovery and Design" and "Hot Macromolecular Structures" in the biological areas to "New Frontiers in High Pressure Crystallography", "Molecular Magnets" and "Nanomaterials" in the field of Industrial and Materials Crystallography. A special emphasis has been placed on the interaction between crystallography and both materials and biological sciences, which will be reflected in the subject content. For example, developments in the role of 'bio-informatics' (where chemical and crystallographic data bases can be harnessed in a wide variety of molecular modelling and interaction applications) will be highlighted. Similarly, exciting developments in high pressure and low temperature crystallography will be presented.

As in previous Congresses, Glasgow 1999 offers delegates the opportunity to display posters of their current research activities. With the deadline for entries now closed, the organisers confirm that over 2,300 abstracts have been received with a record number of poster presentations scheduled for the meeting. Contributions have been received from all corners of the globe, from Bangladesh to Brazil, Chile to China and New Zealand to the Netherlands. Some of the more intriguing poster abstract titles include: "Turkish Ornaments are Twins of Crystals", The Crystal Structure of Adenovirus Knob bound to its Cellular Receptor Car" and "Wood Fibre Diffraction using CCD Detectors in Forest Planting Programs"!

The Congress also incorporates a large commercial exhibition with many of the major companies involved in the production and use of crystallographic software and hardware exhibiting their products and services. Running from 5th ­ 9th of August, the exhibition will feature all the big names in crystallographic technology and instrumentation and will also provide space for a poster area, general seating, eating facilities and an Internet Café from which delegates can read their e-mail. All in all, it should provide a lively and stimulating environment in which to discuss crystallography.

As well as the lecture and poster presentation programme, a number of Open Commission Meetings are scheduled to take place throughout the Congress, paralleling either a microsymposia or poster session. There are also three workshops, which take place on 4th August covering "Structure Factor Phase Determination", "The Cambridge Structural Database" and "Structure Solution from Powder Diffraction Data". For those with some extra time at the beginning or end of the Congress, there are three satellite meetings on "Synchrotron Radiation", "Structural and Dynamical Aspects of Molecular and Ionic Solids Using Neutrons" and "CCDC Databases"*. These will be held at Daresbury, Oxford and Cambridge respectively.

Because 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy', the organisers have not forgotten the social programme! The opening ceremony will be accompanied by a Scottish Pipe band of the 51st Highland Division complete with singers and dancers and this ceremony will be followed up with a number of events throughout the Congress. These include both whisky (what else?) blending and whisky tasting evenings, a delegate reception in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and for those with more energy a 'Learn to Dance' session that aims to hone the Scottish Dancing skills for the Gala Ceilidh, which takes place the following evening. For those new to the shores of Scotland, a number of tours are also available taking in areas such as Loch Lomond, The Trossachs and the Isle of Arran and offering some of the finest mountain scenery in Europe.

Registration for the IUCr XVIIIth Congress is available right up until the start, although delegates who register before 1st June 1999 will receive a £50 reduction in their registration fee. For details on how to register, contact: Crystallography Congress 1999, Northern Networking, Congress Central Office, 813 South St, Glasgow G14 0BX, Tel: +44 (0) 141 954 4441, Fax: +44 (0) 141 954 2656

The last IUCr Congress of the Millennium promises to be the most successful ever. The organisers look forward to seeing you there and feel certain that all the attending delegates will find the meeting a most rewarding experience.


A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes to ensure the Glasgow 1999 Congress is a great success. Thanks must go to the 'Abstracts Team' at the Rutherford Lab for a truly amazing job of receiving and registering and coding over 2,300 abstracts ready for incorporation into the abstracts book. This is the first time that Congress abstracts have been dealt with solely by electronic submission and the operation's success is in no small part due to their efforts. Also thanks to the part-time 'Programme Team' at Durham directed by (the tireless!) Professor Judith Howard for gathering together the information on the 600+ speakers and also assisting the Bursary Committee in assigning awards to attending students. Finally thanks to the 'Local Team' headed by Chris Gilmore and helped by 'Northern Networking' in organising registrations, accommodation and the social programme which will help to make Glasgow 1999 a really memorable experience.

Andrew Hamilton BSc Hons GRSC

*Ed. Note: Just prior to press time, the CCDC satellite was cancelled.