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International Union of Crystallography

The IUCr is an International Scientific Union. Its objectives are to promote international cooperation in crystallography and to contribute to all aspects of crystallography, to promote international publication of crystallographic research, to facilitate standardization of methods, units, nomenclatures and symbols, and to form a focus for the relations of crystallography to other sciences.

research news

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Pioneering X-ray technique to analyse ancient artefacts

sc5013aA pioneering X-ray technique that can analyse artefacts of any shape or texture in a non-destructive way has been developed by an international team of scientists. The method uses X-ray diffraction (XRD) in order to determine crystallographic phase information in artefacts with very high accuracy and without causing damage to the object being scanned [Hansford et al. (2017). Acta Cryst. A73, 293-311].

Using the technique, researchers can identify pigments in paintings and on painted objects – which could potentially be applied in the future to help to clamp down on counterfeit artwork and artefacts and verify authenticity.

The research suggests that the non-invasive technique could also eliminate the frequent need to compromise between archaeological questions that can be solved and the analytical methods available to do so.

Dr Graeme Hansford, from the University of Leicester, explained, “What makes this method really unique is that the shape and texture of the sample become immaterial. I expect future studies to make significant contributions to determining the provenance of a range of archaeological objects, and this data will ultimately provide vital context information for museum collections.

“In paintings, the type of pigment used frequently yields useful insights into methods of production and the organisation of ancient industries, as well as restricting the possible date of manufacture. This could help to determine if the provenance of an artefact is as purported.”

The research was supported by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council.

This news story is an excerpt taken from a press release published by the University of Leicester.
Posted 24 Jul 2017 

research news

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Protein crystallography and drug discovery: recollections of knowledge exchange between academia and industry

In this review IUCrJ. (2017), 4, 308-321 on the occasion of the award of the 2017 Ewald Prize by the IUCr, I present a personal view of the relationship between academia and industry in the development of structure-guided drug discovery. It is a story of using protein crystallography to make new medicines, but also one of knowledge exchange in emerging research ecosystems. It emphasizes the importance of original ideas from all parts of the ecosystem and provides a strong argument against the so-called `linear model', where ideas flow only in one direction from academic institutions to industry. It involves not only those who are academics and entrepreneurs but also those who see the importance of science in society. It begins with a discussion of the contributions of J. D. Bernal, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin and Max Perutz, who worked on crystalline proteins in the 1930s but who recognized the importance to medicine and biology of understanding protein structure, as well as the potential social and economic impact of science. These three amazing people influenced us all not only in our science but in our understanding of its social function. The story records the development of structure-guided drug discovery from the personal view of the author with a focus on new chemical entities rather than biologics, but reflects parallel developments in thinking about the design of new medicines that occurred in academia and in industry in many places throughout the developing and developed world.

Professor Tom L. Blundell
Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, UK
Posted 05 Jul 2017 


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IUCr Associates Programme

IUCrAssociates_right_squareThe IUCr is excited to announce its new, voluntary Associates Programme. This will launch officially at the IUCr Congress in Hyderabad in August 2017.

The programme offers a series of benefits and tools to help you network, share ideas and discover more about crystallography. In addition, by joining the IUCr Associates Programme you will be supporting the IUCr in its many charitable activities such as sponsoring international meetings and schools, and its OpenLabs initiative.

The benefits of joining include, for example, a 20% discount on the open-access fee for publishing an article in an IUCr journal, the facility to download 6 free articles from Crystallography Journals Online, a 50% discount for individuals purchasing the print version of International Tables for Crystallography, and many others.

There will also be tools for professional networking such as access to the IUCr LinkedIn group, a jobs board and opportunities to participate in the IUCr Outreach and Education programme.

The Associates Programme welcomes individuals at any stage of their career, from undergraduates to postdoctoral and senior researchers (a reduced joining rate is available for students and retired scientists).

The IUCr is offering a pre-launch discount of 20% on the Associates Programme joining fee, which gives you access to all the benefits for a period of 3 years. Anyone signing up before the launch in August will be eligible for this specially discounted rate (USD 160 or USD 48 for students and retired scientists). For more details and to register your interest in this offer, please click here.

If you have any questions about the Associates Programme, please do not hesitate to contact us at associates@iucr.org

Posted 09 Mar 2017 


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Updates to the ATSAS package

ge5042Small-angle scattering (SAS) is an increasingly popular technique for the structural characterization of macromolecular solutions. First released in 2003, the ATSAS package is arguably one of the most popular and comprehensive SAS data analysis and modelling platforms for isotropic SAS on solutions of biological macromolecules and nanoparticles.

A new article in Journal of Applied Crystallography [Franke et al. (2017). J. Appl. Cryst. 50] describes the numerous additions developed across ATSAS versions 2.5 to 2.8, which have become available to the scientific community since the authors' last article on the program in 2012. It provides a comprehensive overview of all of ATSAS with its multitude of applications to SAS data analysis. ATSAS programs cover the full spectrum of SAS data processing, manipulation and interactive tasks, ranging from radially averaging two-dimensional data into one-dimensional scattering curves, to the extraction of structural parameters, the computation of distance distribution functions and the reconstruction of three-dimensional models. The ATSAS release 2.8 is freely available for academic users from https://www.embl-hamburg.de/biosaxs/software.html.

Posted 04 Jul 2017 


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Philip Coppens (1930-2017) 

coppens2017It is with great sadness that we report that Professor Philip Coppens passed away on 21 June 2017.

Philip retired from the University of Buffalo last autumn, but retained a lab at the University and was still actively engaged in research. He was a pioneer in crystallography and was awarded the seventh Ewald prize by the IUCr in 2005. This was for his contributions to developing the fields of electron density determination and the crystallography of molecular excited states, and for his contributions to the education and inspiration of young crystallographers as an enthusiastic teacher by participating in and organizing many courses and workshops.


He will be remembered for his dedication and service to the IUCr and its journals. He was a member of the IUCr Executive Committee from 1987 to 1999, and was President of the Union from 1993 to 1996. He played a fundamental role in encouraging the development of electronic journals at the IUCr and also in the early days of the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation when it was not clear how important Synchrotron Radiation would become to Crystallography. He also acted as a Co-editor on Acta Crystallographica Section A and on the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation. A full obituary will be published in due course.

Posted 26 Jun 2017 


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IUCr Webinar: Formulation of the MORPHEUS protein crystallization screens

fabrice-home2Our next webinar Formulation of the MORPHEUS protein crystallization screens, by Dr Fabrice Gorrec, LMB, Cambridge, UK takes place on Tuesday 27 June 2017 at 4:00 PM BST.

To find out more information and to register please follow this link:


Advances in macromolecular X-ray crystallography depends upon solving structures from samples containing purified and concentrated protein, DNA, RNA, and their complexes. Novel samples are however increasingly challenging to produce and crystallize hence innovations which enhance the process of structure determination are urgently required, especially to increase the yield of quality diffraction crystals.

Experienced researchers from related fields, students and non-experts alike will find this webinar essential as it provides both theoretical and experimental evidence-based aspects of macromolecular X-ray crystallography.

Attendees will leave with a better understanding about the underlying reasons why it is necessary to formulate novel crystallization screens with relatively complex conditions, such as the ones found in the MORPHEUS screens.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

A recording of our earlier event Is the X-ray diffraction theory we use correct? by Dr Paul Fewster is now available on the IUCr YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sH-6-qwTj0

View the questions and answers discussed during the event here.

Download Paul's papers associated with the webinar by following these links
P. F. Fewster (2014). Acta Cryst. A70, 257-282
P. F. Fewster (2016). Acta Cryst. A72, 50-54

If you have any questions about either event please do not hesitate to contact Dr Jonathan Agbenyega, Business Development Manager, IUCr at ja@iucr.org
Posted 19 Jun 2017