ICTP Advanced School
Trieste, Italy, April 2012
The ICTP Advanced School, 'From genes to atomic structures: an introduction to synchrotron-based structural biology', was organied by S. Onesti, G. Paolucci and J. Niemela, and sponsored by ICTP, IUCr, IUBMB, Elettra and Douglas Instruments. Lecturers included H. Amenitsch, D. Lamba, A. Leslie, S. Onesti, A. Perrakis, B. Rupp, Z. Sayers, P. Shaw-Stewart, R. Steiner, J. Sussman, T. Unger and M. Yousef.
The application of synchrotron radiation to structural biology has had a significant impact on molecular and cellular biology, medicine and biotechnology. SESAME, the new synchrotron facility being built in Jordan, will be an important scientific centre for Middle Eastern countries. A MAD beamline is among the scheduled SESAME phase I beamlines and is expected to be operational when the machine is commissioned.
As a joint initiative between the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), SESAME and the Italian synchrotron facility Elettra, an advanced school on structural biology was held in Trieste, with the aim of exposing the participants to the methodologies used to solve macromolecular structures using synchrotron radiation single-crystal X-ray diffraction techniques. Although teachers and participants came from all over the world, 4 out of 12 lecturers, and 14 out of 31 students, came from countries that are SESAME members. The program featured lectures and practical sessions, including crystallization, data collection, data processing and structure solution. The students included researchers actively working in protein crystallography and less experienced scientists looking for an overview of the state-of-the art. The combination worked well, providing an opportunity for people who are new to the field to network with experienced peers. Similar events are planned for the future, hoping to foster the formation of new structural biology laboratories in the Middle East.Silvia Onesti