10th anniversary celebrations for Grenoble's Partnership for Structural Biology (PSB)


On 4th June more than 150 specialists from all across Europe gathered in Grenoble to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Partnership for Structural Biology. The day was centred around talks by prestigious guests including David Stuart from the University of Oxford, UK, and Patrick Cramer from the Gene Center, University of Munich, Germany.

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Structural biology is one of the central tenets of research in Grenoble along with micro/nano technologies and energy. In 2003, three European and two French institutes joined forces to create the PSB and pool their knowledge and state-of-the-art equipment to study structural biology.

CIBB houses the PSB

The Carl-Ivar Branden Building is home to Grenoble's Partnership for Structural Biology since 2006. Image credit: EMBL, E. Bensaude, F. Felisaz.

The PSB has accompanied the development and explosion of this discipline in Grenoble. Structural biology examines how proteins and nucleic acids acquire their shape, and how alterations may affect their function. A deeper understanding of molecules and their properties is essential, for example, for the development of new and efficient medicine.

cloning at PSB technical platform

Cloning and expression of a protein on one of the PSB technical platforms. Credit: Ilan Ginzburg.

The PSB provides a unique palette of tools for structural biology covered by 14 technical platforms spanning sample expression and crystallisation, as well as structure resolution, and imaging.

In the past 10 years, the PSB has been the scene of several major discoveries:

  • The development of kinetic crystallography, a technique that shows how proteins function
  • A mechanism that enables viral budding at the surface of infected cells
  • The discovery of the three-dimensional structure of the flu virus polymerase. Knowledge of this structure opens new routes in the discovery and development of anti-flu drugs

Members of the PSB: 

ESRF – European Synchrotron Radiation Facility
EMBL – the Grenoble outstation of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory
ILL – Institut Laue Langevin
IBS – Institut de Biologie Structurale
UVHCI – Unit of Virus Host Cell Interactions (UJF-EMBL-CNRS)


Text by Kirstin Colvin

Top image: Director of the IBS and central figure in the creation of the PSB, Eva Pebay Peroula prepares to give the opening address. Credit: EMBL/E. Bensaude, F. Felisaz