The HEC community meets at Schöneck

Schöneck, Germany, September 23-25, 2010

[HEC-13 logo]

The community of macromolecular crystallographers in central Europe may be of recent vintage but it already has its own unique traditions. The young protein crystallographers in the heart of Europe have been gathering each year for the Heart of Europe bio-Crystallography (HEC) meetings. The 2010 HEC-13, held in Schöneck in the rolling hills of Vogtland, Germany, assembled 121 participants from protein labs in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria. The community has grown from 9 groups at HEC-1 (1998) to 22 groups at HEC-13. This simple statistic shows that the idea behind the HEC initiative, i.e. fostering protein crystallography in the region, is bearing fruit. The 26 talks delivered mostly by students and postdocs were of very high quality in scientific content and the form of presentation. The HEC awards, sponsored by the IUCr, went to Bernd Gardill (U. of Erlangen) for 'Don't behave like a rat: Corticosteroid-binding globulin and the serpin SR transition' and to Ulrike Bräuer (MLU Halle) for 'Structural studies of the aminotransferase LivB'.

[HEC-13 attendees] Participants of the HEC-13 meeting.

The lively discussions that followed the talks were dominated by the younger participants. The first session was skillfully chaired by Udo Heinemann. If gauged by activity age−1 of the discussants, HEC-13 must be considered the most successful to date. Group leaders are allotted time to briefly introduce new groups. This year, Markus Wahl presented the research profile of his team at the Free U. of Berlin and Mikio Tanabe introduced himself as a junior group leader at Martin Luther U. (Halle). Three other groups, from the Max-Delbrück-Center (Berlin), the International Inst. of Molecular and Cell Biology (Warsaw) and Humboldt U. (Berlin), will be introduced by their leaders at HEC-14. The program traditionally includes a special HEC lecture by a key methods developer or highly respected scholar. For HEC-13 this lecture was presented by Alexander Popov (ESRF), who discussed the practical aspects of diffraction data quality with an emphasis on the effects of radiation damage.

The meeting was organized by Norbert Sträter and his team. Special thanks go to Christian Roth, Bartholomeus Küttner and Gabriele Büttner (secretariat). The program offered an excursion to a space travel museum, a hike into the Vogtland hills, or a few relaxing hours in the Ferienpark’s AquaWorld. In summary, the HEC family has had another successful reunion, with excellent science, ample time for exchanging ideas, good atmosphere, good food, and excellent company.

HEC-14 (September 29-October 1, 2012) will be organized in Żagań, Sagan, to commemorate Johannes Kepler, whose book 'De Nive Sexangula' ('On the Six-Cornered Snowflake') heralded in 1611 the birth of modern crystallography.

Mariusz Jaskolsk