ESRF hosts EMBO Master Class 2013


From 10-14 June, the ESRF hosted the tenth edition of the EMBO practical course on anomalous scattering in macromolecular crystallography. The course gave students the opportunity to benefit from the ESRF's state-of-the-art beamlines for hands-on tutoring as well as providing the occasion to test, prior to release, software for data analysis and structure determination of biological macromolecules. Twenty participants from 17 different countries attended lectures given by a total of thirteen invited speakers

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Essential training for structural biologists

EMBO Practical Courses promote the transfer of new methods and emerging techniques to a broad number of laboratories. The ESRF has hosted EMBO practical courses since 1996 when the ESRF's BM14 and ID14-4 beamlines were the first in Europe to be fully dedicated to the use of anomalous scattering as a tool to solve macromolecular crystal structures.

Participating students were introduced to the theory and received hands-on training in the technique.

EMBO 2013 group photo

The event assembled participants from 17 different countries. Students, lecturers and organisers strike a pose outside the ESRF's main entrance. Image: ESRF/C. Argoud.

Prestigious Speakers

Speakers included experts on the theory of anomalous diffraction and developers of the most recent software used in protein crystallography. Experimental phasing by anomalous diffraction is the most used technique to determine the three dimensional structure of biological macromolecules ab initio. A deep knowledge of this technique is a fundamental step in the career of a structural biologist.


Tom Terwilliger EMBO 2013

Lecturers included prestigious guests and experts in the field of anomalous diffraction. Here, Tom Terwilliger, Los Alamos National Laboratory. Image: ESRF/C. Argoud.

Practicals on the beamline were supervised by staff from the ESRF and the EMBL Grenoble Outstation.

At the ESRF, students were first tutored in collecting diffraction data from test crystals available on the beamlines and then from samples of their own. Students were shown how the distinctive features of the ESRF's structural biology beamlines play a major role in successful structure determination.

Hands-on tuition with immediate results

Data processing was performed directly on the beamlines. Data were analysed with the help of the expert invited speakers and local tutors. In a few cases this led to the determination of novel structures during the course.

"The workshop has again been a huge success", said Danièle de Sanctis, ESRF Scientist in the Structural Biology group and main organiser of the event. "The enthusiasm of the next generation of crystallographers to learn from the invited speakers and beamline tutors is truly rewarding."


Find out about other up-coming EMBO events and practicals.


Text by Kirstin Colvin

Top image: Andrew McCarthy of the EMBL with one of the students during a practical session. Image: ESRF/C. Argoud