We request partial support for the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on "Diffraction Methods in Structural Biology" to be held at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine from July 15-20, 2012.
The specific aim of the conference is to provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of recent advances and new ideas in all aspects of diffraction methods, ranging from crystallization to model building and refinement. Progress in this field makes it possible to understand the mechanism of the molecules of interest and their modes of interaction, and provides an opportunity to modulate their activity in a way that is beneficial to human health. The conference will highlight the approaches responsible for breakthroughs in the structure determination of molecules such as prokaryotic and eukaryotic ribosomes and the identification of targets for important antibiotics, as well as intrinsic membrane protein structures, which are involved in many diseases and are the targets of almost three quarters of existing medicinal drugs. Another area of discussion will be the development of sophisticated and efficient x-ray sources and experimental data collection stations, which play a large role in these advances, extending the range of useful sample sizes into the micron scale and facilitating the rapid collection of the hundreds of datasets required fo structure-assisted drug development programs by many leading pharmaceutical companies. The main long term goal of this GRC is to contribute to the continuous development of methods to extend the range of targets that can be tackled successfully This is achieved by the exchange of ideas amongst the leaders of the field in an environment which is highly conductive to the establishment of new collaborations. The meeting also provides useful new tools and ideas to assist participants to make progress in their research projects and is expected to foster interest in methods development amongst young scientists. The 2012 meeting will be chaired by Ana Gonzalez (Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource), with Anastassis Perrakis (Netherlands Cancer Institute) as vice chair, and will include presentations from many of the key software and hardware developers in the field. Session topics have been selected on the basis of their potential impact on the key scientific challenges described above, and will include crystallization, data collection and analysis, synchrotron developments, complementary techniques (e.g. SAXS, spectroscopy), structure solution and refinement, challenging problems (with an emphasis on membrane proteins), structure validation and imaging and diffraction experiments at free electron lasers.
The 2012 Gordon Research Conference in Diffraction Methods in Structural Biology seeks to advance the techniques used in macromolecular structure determination by providing a forum for the presentation and discussion of recent methodological developments in the field. Developments in this area greatly increase our ability to determine the three-dimensional shape of proteins, nucleic acids and their assemblies. Structure knowledge can be directly applied to the understanding of the processes that cause illness at the molecular level and to the design of more potent, specific and efficient drugs.