Training Course in Complementary Optical Spectroscopies in Macromolecular Crystallography
Grenoble, 19th - 21st September
The first edition of a training course in complementary optical spectroscopies in macromolecular crystallography (COSMX) was held in Grenoble from Sept. 19-21. It was organized by ESRF, IBS and EMBL, in collaboration with the Swiss Light Source and Diamond. Financial support was provided by BioStruct-X and the ESRF. The first day was dedicated to courses on the various instruments, techniques and methods available on structural biology beamlines at all three synchrotrons. Practicals were held during the second day on beamlines. Participants were encouraged to bring samples from their own research projects. The final half-day was devoted to application examples and a wrap-up discussion.
A total of 18 participants, PhD students, post-docs and young scientists, from 8 different countries, attended lectures given by a total of 13 tutors on the manifold aspects of optical spectroscopies applied to macromolecular crystals. Practicals on beamlines ID14-EH1 (online UV-vis absorption microspec), ID23-EH2 (UV-RIP) and ID29 (online Raman) and at the Cryobench (ID29S – offline UV-vis absorption and fluorescence microspec) were supervised by staff from the ESRF, IBS, EMBL and SLS, using state-of-the-art in-house-conceived instrumentation. Feedback from participants was very positive in general (see below). Most of them were able to record good-quality spectra out of their samples, which promotes the use of complementary optical spectroscopy in crystallo and should result in new experimental proposals at the ESRF and other synchrotrons.
First EMBL Advanced Course on Hybrid Structural Biology Approaches held at EMBL Hamburg
Hamburg, 11th - 16th June
From the 11th – 16th June 2012, EMBL Hamburg hosted the first EMBL Advanced Course on Hybrid Structural Biology Approaches. Sixteen students from across Europe attended the 6 day course which included lectures and practical sessions on Sample Preparation and Characterization, Small Angle X-ray Scattering, Marcomolecular Crystallography and Electron Microscopy. The second half of the course included software demonstrations on how to evaluate and combine the data from the different techniques.
Highlights also included plenary talks by Jean van den Elsen from the University of Bath, UK on using a hybrid structural biology approach for a multienzyme complex assembly, and Savvas Savvides from the University of Gent in Belgium who spoke about the diversity of hematopoietic cytokine-receptor complexes revealed by hybrid methods in structural biology. The students also presented their own research in a number of lively sessions.
The feedback from the students was generally positive, and the overall feeling was that the course was a success. “The atmosphere of the course has been great and it was been good to hear how other groups use hybrid approaches to tackle their research projects. I now have a good overview of the techniques presented here and ideas on how to move forward with my own research” said one participant. “Hybrid approaches in structural biology are becoming more and more important.” said Matthias Wilmanns head of EMBL Hamburg and one of the course organizers, “Bringing together students and experts from different scientific backgrounds has led to a lively exchange of ideas and thoughts. We hope this is something that can be transferred to the entire structural biology community”.
The course was supported by the EU projects BioStruct-X, Instruct and PCUBE.
EMBO Practical Course on the Structural Characterization of Macromolecular Complexes
Grenoble, 4th - 9th June
From the 4th – 9th June 2012, the EMBO Practical Course on the Structural Characterisation of Macromolecular Complexes took place in Grenoble, France. Twenty students from 18 different nationalities took part in the course which consisted of a series of 24 lectures and 12 practical sessions. The aim of this course was to teach participants how to expedite structural biology projects involving macromolecular complexes by exploiting diverse experimental approaches, and covered topics including recombinant co-expression, library methods for protein expression, biophysical interaction assays, interaction databases, yeast two-hybrid methods, DARPin technology, mass spectrometry, small-angle scattering, NMR, X-ray crystallography, and electron microscopy. A number of participants also brought their own samples to characterize during the practicals. Feedback was highly positive by both speakers and participants alike.