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The Gregori Aminoff Prize

Professor Michael Rossmann receives the Gregori Aminoff Prize from the hands of HM King Carl XVI Gustaf at the Anniversary Meeting of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, March 24,1994. (Photo Lars Falck)

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded the Gregori Aminoff Prize to Professor Michael Rossmann (Purdue University, USA) for his fundamental methodological work on the utilization of noncrystallographic symmetry, with its especially important applications in protein and virus crystallography. The prize was received from HM King Carl XVI Gustaf at the Anniversary meeting of the Academy on March 24, 1994.

During his time at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in Cambridge, England, 1958-1964, Rossmann, together with D. M. Blow, laid the foundations for the "Molecular Replacement" method that has contributed to the determination of the structures of hundreds of macromolecules in laboratories throughout the world. The method utilizes the occurrence of two or more identical or nearly identical structure entities within one unit cell (noncrystallographic symmetry) or in the unit cell of two different crystals. The method has become a very important tool for relating (by rotation and translation functions) the subunits and domains of a protein and for an initial phase determination by using the known structure of a related molecule. In the determination of the structure of a virus particle the method of molecular replacement is of fundamental importance. Rossman has also made important contributions to the processing of diffraction data from special problems in resolving the diffraction pattern. A profile fitting method developed by Rossman has also made it possible to use partially registered intensities.

" ... 'Molecular Replacement' method that has contributed to the determination of the structures of hundreds of macromolecules in laboratories throughout the world"

Structural comparisons between related protein molecules is another area where Rossman has made important methodological contributions. This reflects his great interest in molecular evolution. Rossman and collaborators have made a large number of crystallographic structure determinations of proteins and virus particles, work which has also had a significant impact on the research in otherlaboratories. Among these can be noted his work on "Southern Bean Mosaic Virus." This structure gave an important confirmation and understanding of the phenomenon of quasisymmetry of spherical virus particles. Rossmann and collaborators were also the first to solve the structure of an animal virus, the common cold virus in 1985.

The Gregori Aminoff Prize is awarded annually and we invite crystallographers to suggest candidates, without restriction to nationality, to the National Committee of Crystallography, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Box 50005, S-10405 Stockholm, Sweden.

Priority is given to work of pioneering character, which has been of importance to the development of crystallography. Professor Aminoff was very interested in the symmetry and beauty of crystals in a broad sense (he was also a professional artist), and such aspects may also be taken into account. Motivations to the proposals would be most welcome. The names of former winners are listed in the accompanying table.

The Prize of Gregori Aminoff

1979 P. P. Ewald USA
1980 F. W. Zachariasen USA
1981 C. Frank England
1982 G. Hägg Sweden
1983 M. Robertson Scotland
1984 D. Harker USA
1985 A. Guinier France
1986 E. F. Bertaut France
1987 O. Kratky Czechoslovakia
1988 I. Karle USA
1989 A. Magnéli Sweden
1990 J. Dunitz Switzerland
1991 D. Phillips England
1992 M. Woolfson England
1993 C. Shull USA
1994 M. Rossmann USA
Ivar Olovsson
Uppsala U., Sweden