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International Workshop on X-ray Crystallography in Structural Biology

and

Discussion Meeting on the use of SESAME in Pakistan

12-14 November 2015

[Group photo]

Participants in the Discussion Meeting and International Workshop on X-ray Crystallography in Structural Biology at NIBGE. Front  row: Dr Qaiser M. Khan (Head, Environmental Biotechnology Division, NIBGE), Dr Shahid M. Baig (Head, Health Biotechnology Division, NIBGE), Dr Sohail Ahmed Janjua (Manager, CERN/SESAME, PAEC), Dr Javed Khurshid (PAEC), Prof. Kauser A. Malik (FCC University/NIBGE), Dr Shahidh Mansoor (Director, NIBGE), Dr Gareth Wright (University of Liverpool), Prof. Osman Mirza (Copenhagen University), Dr M. Afzal Ghauri (Head, Industrial Biotechnology Division, NIBGE).

An International Workshop on X-ray Crystallography in Structural Biology was held at the National Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad, Pakistan, from 12th to 14th November 2015 under the auspices of the National Committee of X-ray Crystallography. NIBGE is an institute of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and has been declared as a centre of excellence in Biotechnology in the country. The workshop was jointly organized by ICCBS Karachi, FC College University Lahore, Islamia University Bahawulpur, BZU Multan and NIBGE. This workshop is unique in the aspect that it was for the first time organized in Pakistan. The support of Prof. Samar Hasnain (University of Liverpool) and of the sponsors (Higher Education Commission Pakistan, Fulbright Commission Pakistan and Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission) for the successful execution of the workshop is gratefully acknowledged.

[Skype participants]

First row (left to right): Dr Silvia Onesti (Elettra Synchrotron, Italy), Prof. Giorgio Paolucci (Scientific Director, SESAME) and Prof. Iqbal Choudhary are participating in the Discussion Meeting via Skype. Second row: Dr Moaz ur Rahman is coordinating the Discussion Meeting.

Thirty students, researchers and professionals from biological, physical and chemical sciences were selected to attend the workshop from all over the country and Iran. Participants were provided training in all steps leading to protein structure determination by X-ray crystallography: protein production, crystallization, diffraction data collection and processing, structure solution, model building, refinement and evaluation. Training was delivered by Dr Osman Mirza, University of Copenhagen, Dr Gareth Wright, University of Liverpool, and several national experts through interactive lecturing and practical sessions.

[Shahid Mansoor]

Prof. Shahid Mansoor, Director NIBGE, addressing participants in the Discussion Meeting at the International Workshop on X-ray Crystallography in Structural Biology, 12-14 Nov 2015, at NIBGE.

Participants were very keen to learn state-of-the-art X-ray crystallography methods in general and their applications in structural biology, and showed great enthusiasm to work in this exciting area of science.

On the last and concluding day of the workshop, a discussion meeting was organized to discuss how X-ray crystallography research and use of the SESAME Synchrotron facility can be strengthened in Pakistan. The Discussion Meeting was attended by international and national senior scientists, including Prof. Kauser A. Malik (FCC University, Lahore), Prof. Iqbal Choudhary (ICCBS Karachi; Co-Chair National Committee of Crystallography), Dr Giorgio Paolucci (Scientific Director SESAME, Jordan/Elettra Synchrotron, Italy), Dr Silvia Onesti (Elettra Synchrotron, Italy), Dr Javed Khurshiad (PAEC; Coordinator Nathia Galli College), Dr Sohail Ahmad Janjua (PAEC; Manager CERN/SESAME at PAEC), Dr Shahid Mansoor (NIBGE), Dr Shahid M. Baig (NIBGE; Head of Divisions/Departments, NIBGE), Dr Osman Mirza (University of Copenhagen), Dr Gareth Wright (University of Liverpool), Dr Sammer Yusuf (ICCBS, Karachi), Dr Atia-tul Wahab (ICCBS, Karachi), Dr Maqsood Ahmed (Islamia University Bahawalpur), Dr Muhammad Imran (FCC University, Lahore), Dr Ahmed Akrem (Bahauddin Zakryia University, Multan), Dr Moazur Rahman (NIBGE) and participants of the X-ray Crystallography Workshop, 12-14 November (NIBGE).

Following the introduction of the participants, the Discussion Meeting was formally started by Dr Shahid Mansoor (Director NIBGE). Dr Moazur Rahman (NIBGE) presented the discussion meeting agenda with the objective 'how can X-ray crystallography based research and the use of SESAME Synchrotron Facility be strengthened in Pakistan?' The agenda presented is given below:

  • Launch of the website for the National Committee of Crystallography
  • Organization of X-ray crystallography hands-on training workshop on yearly basis in different institutions of Pakistan under the auspices of the National Committee of Crystallography
  • Training of young researchers in protein production, crystallization and structural studies using X-ray crystallography based methods
  • Fellowships for young researchers to work in the field of structural biology within Pakistan
  • Awareness seminars about the SESAME Synchrotron facility in various institutions throughout Pakistan. Possibility to find funds for such activities
  • Training of human resource for the SESAME facility
  • Collaborative structural biology research projects among different institutions / individuals at national level and means to find research funds.
[Speakers]

(Clockwise) Dr Maqsood Ahmed (Islamia University), Dr Nayyer Iqbal (Director A&B, PAEC), Dr Osman Mirza (Copenhagen University), Dr Ahmed Akrem (Bahuddin Zakryia University), Dr M. Imran (FCC University), Dr Gareth Wright (University of Liverpool) and Dr Moazur Rahman (NIBGE) are taking part in discussion meeting and addressing  participants of the workshop.

Comments of Participants

Comments by Prof. Iqbal Choudhary (Director ICCBS and Co-Chair National Committee of Crystallography)

Prof. Iqbal discussed the agenda of the meeting in detail and showed his full support for its implementation. Particularly as Director of ICCBS he offered a financial support of US$ 5000 per annum for training of young researchers abroad if boarding/lodging expenses are provided by the host laboratories. He urged other institutions to make such contributions and proposed a committee under the chairmanship of Prof. Kausar A. Malik. Moreover, he advocated the idea of Prof. Samar Hasnain (University of Liverpool, UK) that ICCBS, FCC University and NIBGE may submit a joint PC-1 to the Government of Pakistan to strengthen X-ray crystallography research in Pakistan and proposed a meeting of representatives from FCC University and NIBGE in ICCBS in December 2015.

Comments by Dr Silvia Onesti (Head Structural Biology, Elettra Synchrotron, Italy)

As a senior faculty member of the International Workshop on X-ray Crystallography in Structural Biology, 12-14 November at NIBGE, and following her close association with the SESAME community, she discussed opportunities with ICTP Italy and IAEA for the training of young scientists and postgraduate students.

Detail information on these can be found at the following websites.

https://www.ictp.it/tril/about-tril.aspx, http://www.ictp.it/programmes/step.aspx, http://www.ictp.it/programmes/career-development.aspx#anchor_1159, http://www.elettra.trieste.it/userarea/ictp-elettra-users-programme.html

Dr Silvia also highlighted that to conduct meetings/schools/workshop related to X-ray crystallography in developing countries support can also be sought from the IUCr (International Union of Crystallography) in future (http://www.iucr.org/iucr/sponsorship/vp.html).

Comments by Prof. Giorgio Paolucci (Scientific Director, SESAME, Jordan/Elettra Italy)

Prof. Giorgio briefed the audience about the current status and latest developments at SESAME with the perspective of Structural Biology and other applications of synchrotron radiation to life sciences. He also discussed training/research schemes available to scientists and students through SESAME and its member states in addition to support from European Synchrotron facilities.

[Kausar Abdulla Malik]

Professor Kausar Abdulla Malik (Dean Postgraduate studies, FC College University) addressing the participants of the International Workshop on X-ray Crystallography in Structural Biology as Chief Guest and sharing his views to strengthen X-ray Crystallography research in Pakistan.

Comments by Prof. Kausar Abdulla Malik (Dean, Postgraduate studies at FCC University, Lahore)

Prof. Kausar A. Malik extends his gratitude that he is pleased to see the execution of activities related to X-ray crystallography research that were decided last year in the first meeting of the National Committee of Crystallography at FCC University, chaired by Prof. Samar Hasnain, University of Liverpool. He overwhelmingly extends his full support to strengthen X-ray crystallography research in Pakistan and to submit PC-1 to the Government of Pakistan to achieve the set goals. He also suggested and announced that the next International Meeting/Workshop on X-ray Crystallography may be organized at FCC University Lahore for continuing training of young researchers and scientists in this state-of-the-art field of science.

Comments by Dr Javed Khurshiad, PAEC (Coordinator Nathia Galli College)

To strengthen X-ray crystallography based research, Dr Javed Khurshid talk about the possibilities of organizing a dedicated session on X-ray crystallography in next Nathia Galli College.

Comments by Dr Sohail Ahmad Janjua, PAEC (Manager CERN/SESAME at PAEC)

As Manager CERN/SESAME at Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Headquarters, Dr Sohail emphasized the need for training young researchers for SESAME which will be operational in the near future, and expressed his full support in this regard,

Comments by Dr Shahid Mansoor (Director NIBGE)

Dr Shahid Mansoor discussed the agenda of the meeting in detail and briefed about his commitments to strengthen X-ray crystallography research in Pakistan. He particularly urged his counterparts to prepare PC-1 as soon as possible for submission to the Government of Pakistan. He also suggested that awareness activities and meetings/workshops related to X-ray crystallography research should be organized without any discontinuation.

Comments by Dr Osman Mirza (University of Copenhagen)

Dr Osman Mirza emphasized that young researchers should come up with collaborative research ideas and work together at a national level to strengthen structural biology research in the country. Moreover, he suggested that a mechanism should be developed for utilization of various facilities available at difference institutes of Pakistan by young researchers.

Comments by faculty members and participants of International Workshop on X-ray Crystallography in Structural Biology 12-14 Nov. 2015

  • Emphasis was given to launch website of the National Committee of Crystallography
  • Membership of the National Committee of Crystallography may be formally opened for Pakistani crystallography community
  • Joint research grants may be submitted by young scientists to work jointly in the field of crystallography
  • Meetings/Workshops may be conducted at least on a yearly basis to strengthen X-ray crystallography research in Pakistan.

Report compiled by Dr Moazur Rahman, Principal Scientist, NIBGE, Faisalabad.