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American Crystallographic Association 2017 award winners

The following awards will be presented at the American Crystallographic Association (ACA) annual meeting in New Orleans, LA, USA, May 26-30, 2017. Further information on these awards can be found at

Patterson Award to Zbigniew Dauter

[Zbigniew Dauter] Zbigniew Dauter

For over 30 years, Zbigniew Dauter has been one of the leading proponents of the use of synchrotron radiation for macromolecular crystal structure determination. Zbigniew has worked at the EMBL Outstation in Hamburg, the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven and the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne. He has been an innovative developer of methodology with highly influential studies on the use of anomalous diffraction in biomolecular structure analysis at true atomic resolution. He has strongly influenced the development of phasing methods based on native anomalous scatterers. He has analyzed many structures at exceptional resolution and detail that provided new insights in biological chemistry.

He applies his crystallographic expertise to correct errors in published macromolecular crystal structures. His extraordinary depth of understanding also comes to the fore in his longstanding work as a Section Editor of the biological crystallography section (D) of Acta Crystallographica. Zbigniew has delivered many plenary lectures at international conferences where he educates and entertains.

Zbigniew has published in all the sections of Acta Crystallographica. He embodies the positive spirit of scientific research at all levels, in depth and in breadth, and fulfills the vision of the ACA Patterson Award to recognize and encourage outstanding research in the structure of matter by diffraction methods, including the methodology of structure determination and/or innovative application of diffraction methods.

David Rognlie Award to Helen M. Berman

[Helen Berman] Helen Berman

Helen M. Berman received her PhD in Chemistry in 1967 from the U. of Pittsburgh. In 1969, she joined the Fox Chase Cancer Center, where her research program focused on nucleic acid crystallography. In 1989, she joined the faculty at Rutgers, the State U. of New Jersey, where she is now a Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

Helen played an influential role in the early development of the Protein Data Bank (PDB). For nearly five decades she maintained the PDB archive as a resource created by, and for, the community. As head of the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics (RCSB), Helen became the Director of the PDB in 1998, and developed the RCSB PDB into a vital and key resource for biology and education. The primary reference for the RCSB PDB was included in Nature's 2014 list of the 100 most cited papers.

In 2003, Helen formed the Worldwide PDB with groups in the UK and Japan to ensure that a single PDB archive would continue to be freely and publicly available to the global community. She has fostered the development of other bioinformatics resources, ontologies, and community-driven validation standards. These include the Structural Biology Knowledgebase, an online resource that combines the results from the NIH-funded Protein Structure Initiative research with external data annotations to provide comprehensive information about proteins.

Berman serves on many advisory committees and editorial boards. Helen has numerous awards, including the DeLano Award for Computational Biosciences from ASBMB (2013); the Carl Brändén Award from the Protein Society (2012); a Fellow of the ACA (2011); the Martin J. Buerger Award from the ACA (2006); and a Distinguished Service Award from the Biophysical Society (2000).

Elizabeth Wood Science Writing Award to James O'Brien

[James O'Brien] James F. O'Brien

James F. O'Brien began his academic career as a physical chemist at Missouri State U. (MSU) in 1969. He won three teaching awards including the Governor of Missouri's Award for Teaching Excellence (2001). In 2002 he was granted the status of Distinguished Professor - the highest status awarded to faculty at MSU. Early in his career O'Brien began presenting general lectures as part of the American Chemical Society speaker series. He has given 293 invited talks at seminars, banquets, meetings, etc., including 135 Sherlock Holmes lectures and 136 'Famous Mad Hatter' talks about mercury poisoning. In 2010 he was elected to the MSU Wall of Fame. O'Brien's writing for the general public has focused on Sherlock Holmes. The book The Scientific Sherlock Holmes won an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America as the best book of 2013 in the critical/biographical category.


Etter Early Career Award Christine Dunham

[Christine Dunham] Christine Dunham

Christine Dunham is the recipient of the 2017 Margaret C. Etter Early Career Award, which recognizes 'outstanding achievement and exceptional potential in crystallographic research demonstrated by a scientist at an early stage of their independent career.'

Christine is using X-ray crystallography and cryo-EM to understand how proteins are synthesized in bacteria and how the process is regulated in conditions of stress. She is interested in the molecular basis of frameshift errors, which arise when the ribosome reads a shifted sequence of the messenger RNA, producing an alternative protein sequence, the role of the toxin-antitoxin system in persistency, a latent state that bacteria enter under stress, and the link between RNA modification and antibiotic resistance.

Christine obtained a bachelor's degree at Barnard, a PhD from the U. of California, Santa Cruz, and was a post doc at the MRC in Cambridge, UK, with Venki Ramakrishnan, and is currently at Emory U.