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Reminiscences from HEC-X

Bedlewo, Poland , September, 2007

[HEC logo]The idea of Heart of Europe Bio-Crystallography (HEC) Meetings that would bring together young protein crystallographers from the center of Europe was conceived in 1998 under the leadership of Rolf Hilgenfeld and Manfred Weiss. Year after year, with growing size and importance, the HEC Meetings have been organized by the participating groups. The 10th Anniversary Meeting, HEC-X, was organized on September 27-29, 2007, in Bedlewo (Poland) by the Center for Biocrystallographic Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The Meeting attracted 118 participants, mostly students, from the HEC groups ( in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, plus 7 commercial exhibitors. In keeping with the HEC tradition, 31 lectures were presented exclusively by young scientists. In addition, there was one HEC lecture given by an invited eminent scientist. The lecturer was Guy Dodson (U. of York, UK) who captivated the audience with a vibrant review of the crystallography, chemistry and biology of insulin.

A committee assembled to select the best HEC presentation included representatives of the HEC Group Leaders, Guy Dodson (Chairman), and Clare Sansom (Birkbeck College, London). The HEC Prize went to Robert Kolodziejczyk (A. Mickiewicz U., Poznan) for his talk entitled “Insect Juvenile Hormone Binding Protein exhibits ancestral fold present in human lipid binding proteins”. The Award, International Tables for Crystallography, Vol. A, was generously sponsored by the IUCr. Apart from support from the IUCr, we also received a grant from the European Crystallographic Association (ECA), and several donations from commercial sponsors. However, the most generous sponsor was the Polish Network of Cell and Molecular Biology.

The social functions included a barbecue, the HEC Dinner, and an excursion to the Kornik Castle, where the participants had the rare occasion to view the most valuable manuscripts and prints (including a score in Frederic Chopin’s handwriting and the first edition of Nicolaus Copernicus’ “De revolutionibus orbium coelestium”) held in the Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences. There was also a special HEC “History and Reminiscences” session, with lots of memories, anecdotes, laughter, and applause. One of the student participants wrote after the conference “It was my first HEC meeting and now I really understand why everybody likes it so much.” This sentence could be the motto of the HEC initiative.

[Participants]Participants of HEC-X on the stairs of the Bedlewo Castle.
HEC-X was also special because it witnessed the birth of the HEC committee, composed of several of the HEC veterans. One of the tasks of the committee is to designate the next HEC meeting organizer. For the venue of HEC-11, Greifswald has been selected, and the organizer will be Winfried Hinrichs.
Mariusz Jaskolski