Nobel Prize Chemistry for 3D imaging of frozen biomolecules5 October 2017
This year the Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to the founders of cryo-electron microscopy, a technique used to determine the structure of biomolecules in their natural form. The winners are the Swiss Jacques Dubochet, the American Joachim Frank and Britain's Richard Henderson. Colleague in the field and TU/e professor Nico Sommerdijk says the distinction is highly deserved.
Professor Nico Sommerdijk is the scientific director of the Center for Multiscale Electron Microscopy at TU/e. He says he is elated to see the Nobel Prize awarded within his specialist field. “It is also very well-deserved; these three gentlemen are the undisputed founders of this field.”
The field of cryo-electron microscopy emerged, believes Sommerdijk, with the discovery by Dubochet that by freezing samples containing biomolecules – such as proteins - quickly, they can be preserved in their original state in a form that allows inspection with electron microscopes. “This made it possible to produce the first high-resolution images of biological materials. But you can also use the technique to analyze synthetic materials, as we do here in the lab.”
Joachim Frank, the second Nobel Prize winner, took Dubochet's discovery further, explains Sommerdijk. “He was a pioneer in the field of single-particle reconstruction; if you have a sample with a large number of identical molecules, in all kinds of orientations, you can derive a 3D image of that molecule. Both Frank and Henderson made significant contributions to the visualization of proteins in three dimensions.”
In addition, Henderson was also able to achieve such high resolutions that you can recognize all the individual amino acids from which the proteins are built, says Sommerdijk. This makes it possible, he explains, to see how the long chain of amino acids is 'folded' to form a functional protein. He stresses what a great step forward this was. “Until the discovery of cryo-electron microscopy, you could only say something about the structure of the proteins by using X-ray diffraction, for which the protein is crystallized. But many proteins don't want to crystallize, and certainly not in their natural form. And you want to know that form in order to establish how proteins interact with other molecules. This knowledge is important, for example, in the development of medicines.”
Purple rain will fall tomorrow, on Purple Friday, from the TU/e chimney stack, so that everyone can see that the university recognizes and celebrates diversity in sexual orientation. But as President of the Executive Board Jan Mengelers emphasizes: “Our support is more than symbolic.” University secretary Nicole Ummelen is calling on the LGBTU/e community: “Please be our role models - and let us know if there are matters we can facilitate.”
The Department of the Built Environment has been in existence for fifty years. Yesterday evening this milestone was celebrated in grand style with a festive dinner at Plaza Vertigo attended by more than 350 people followed by a party. Speeches and performances enlivened the evening. Departmental Dean Elphi Nelissen made her speech during the eight-course meal. Live music was provided by Laura Eshuis and Eleven Dirty, while the Superstijl DJs worked the turntables.
Forget about Antwerp, London and Cologne. The only Christmas market worth its salt this year may well be right on your doorstep. It will have everything - from a hearty hotpot and a cup of steaming mulled wine to live Christmas music and the new tradition of firing a Christmas tree from a cannon - and will be right here in MetaForum's market hall from December 11 through 21.
In 2018 the students of TU/e will be represented on the University Council by three parties. The provisional results indicate that newcomer DAS Eindhoven will have two seats, Groep-één remains the largest presence with four seats, and the Eindhoven Student Council (ESR) takes three. For the first time in years, staff faction PUR includes a professor; Anton Darhuber of Applied Physics.
Do you find MetaForum too busy around exams? Does studying at home not appeal to you? Or do you simply need a bit of structure when you're revising? It may well be that the public library at De Witte Dame is the place for you. Under the banner ‘StudyShare’ staff there are hoping to attract students through most of January - with your books or laptop, but without your cellphone.