Jones receives Patterson Award
Louis Delbaere, ACA President presents T. Alwyn Jones with the Patterson Award
This year, the ACA bestowed its coveted A. Lindo Patterson Award on T. Alwyn Jones, FRS (Uppsala U.), in recognition of his pioneering work in the development of computer-graphics software for macromolecular model building. Jones obtained his PhD in biophysics from Kings College in the early 1970s, and then moved to Munich, where he began the development of the famous FRODO program (initially called INTER). After moving to Uppsala (Sweden) in 1979, he continued the program’s development, but later began work on a successor that he redesigned from scratch. This successor is called “O” for reasons Jones steadfastly refuses to divulge. For more than two decades the vast majority of all macromolecular crystal structures were built with these two programs, a fact recognized by the ACA award, as it had been previously by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences through its Aminoff Prize (shared with Axel T. Brunger in 2003). Ever since using Ramachandran plots to select high-quality protein crystal structures for inclusion in O’s database in the mid-1980s, Alwyn has also had a keen interest in model validation, and his Nature commentary (with C.-I. Brändén; Nature 343, 687-689 (1990)) today stands as a landmark publication in this important area of macromolecular crystallography.
A special symposium on “Macromolecular Model Building and Validation” was organized as part of the meeting in Orlando, FL. Jones gave a very entertaining historical overview of his work in the areas of model building and validation. This was followed by contributions from people involved in model building or validation. P. Emsley (York U.) talked about his program COOT; G. Kleywegt (Uppsala U.) discussed a project that was initiated by Jones, namely the Uppsala Electron-Density Server (EDS: http://eds.bmc.uu.se/); T. Terwilliger (Los Alamos) described automated iterative model building and density modification in the context of the Phenix software project; and J. Richardson (Duke U.) discussed the validation software being developed at Duke U. to provide tools that can not only diagnose problems (validation), but also propose methods for fixing them (http://kinemage.biochem.duke.edu/molprobity/).
Excerpted from Gerard Kleywegt’s report for the ACA Newsletter