NVK symposium was a great success!

On 24.11.2023 we held our annual general meeting of the NVK (ALV) at the Amsterdam Science Park organized by Roland Bliem and the ARCNL institute. Apart from the official ALV, the day was full of scientific talks and exchange, as we embedded it into our autumn symposium, this year on the topic of ‘Crystallography in Materials’. We had an exciting panel of speakers especially Ruud den Adel (Unilever), Tom de Vries (Nijmegen), Mirijam Zobel (Aachen), Alexey Pustovarenko (Malvern Panalytical), Adrian Graham (ESA/ESTEC) and Jarek Mazurek (Ardena).

A sphere impression of the day!

Special thanks belong to our speakers of the young researcher session (Grisha Shipunov (UvA), Falk Pabst (UvA) and Charlotte Vrolijk (Maastricht)), which was a great success and gave our next generation researcher a platform to discuss their achievements.

Find the full program here. If you got curious, please join our next Symposium in Spring 2024! Details will follow.  




We invite you for our symposium ‘Crystallography in Materials’

It’s time again for the yearly NVK symposium and Algemene Leden Vergadering (ALV)! We cordially invite you to our autumn symposium focusing on ‘Crystallography in Materials’ at the Matrix ONE building in Amsterdam. Find more information and register here. Feel free to spread the word, and take your colleagues, students and fellow researcher along.

Loes reports on the IUCr Congress and General Assembly in Melbourne

By: Loes Kroon-Batenburg

The triannual IUCr congress was held this time 22-29 August, 2023 in Australia, a long-distance travel for most crystallographers. The number of attendees was a bit lower than usual (~1800) but still respectable. This year the 75th Anniversary of the IUCr is celebrated. A very well attended session was devoted to short talks by several Executive committee members and IUCr officers giving their memories on the rich history of the IUCr.  

13th Ewald Prize Lecture went to Wayne A. Hendrickson who delivered his lecture “Facing the Phase problem”. In his work he contributed to solving the phase problem for protein crystal structures with MAD and SAD techniques. He also mentioned the importance of the work of Prof. Bijvoet on anomalous scattering, our founding father of crystallography in the Netherlands. There were three plenary lectures, 29 key notes lectures and 8 parallel micro symposia, twice per day. In addition, there were poster sessions and the Software Fayre (organized by Martin Lutz) was running each day. One of the keynote lectures was given by our member Elias Vlieg (RU Nijmegen) on “X-ray crystallography of solid-liquid interfaces”. He showed very interesting phenomena are going on at crystal surfaces that can be well studied with X-ray crystallography. Elias is president of the DAGG, the Dutch Association of Crystal Growth, and I am happy to let you know that next year we will have a joint NVK-DAGG meeting!

The delegates were no longer provided with program and abstracts on paper; they were accessible through a congress app. Although quite handy to not be dragging around a heavy bag, it was very hard to really get a good overview of what was going on each day. The conference center was huge.  When I arrived the first day and entered the front door, it turned out I had to walk another 1 km inside the building to arrive at the reception desk.  It was very pleasant to meet colleagues in real life, talk to them over coffee and have lively discussions. It is a relive after having had the Corona restrictions. The exhibition was not as large as usual, surely because of the costs involved in traveling and exporting material to Australia. However, happily, a good number of sponsors were present anyway; I find the exhibitions are always the heart of the meeting. There was also a cute fluffy guest that could be petted.

An impression of Melbourne
The fluffy guest

Martin Lutz and I were the Dutch National Committee representatives to the General Assembly and we had three long evenings discussing withdrawal of adhering bodies (mostly for financial reasons), voting for  nominations of commission members and notably the admission of The African Crystallographic Association (AfCA) as a Regional Associate of the International Union of Crystallography. There was also a report about the achievements of the various IUCr journals, a very important source of income for the IUCr. The next IUCr meeting will be in Calgary in 2026 and it was decided that the 28th IUCr congress will be held in Berlin in 2029.

The winters in Melbourne are not that bad, just like a poor summer in the Netherlands, so it was nice to walk back and forth to the conference center which was located on a relaxed pedestrian area with cafés and restaurants close to the Yarra river. All in all, I found the very long traveling time was worth the effort!

In memoriam Henk Schenk (26-12-1939 – 14-09-2023)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Henk Schenk on September 14th, 2023. Prof. Dr. Hendrik (Henk) Schenk was one of the founders, the first Chair and “erelid” (honorary member) of the NVK. Henk was a inspiring crystallographer, who will be remembered by many of us. Our thoughts are with his family.

Please find the full in memoriam here.

Recently published by Sandra: X-ray structures of MHC class I proteins from Great reed warblers

Recently Sandra Eltschkner (one of our young members) published her work she performed during her postdoc in the lab of Helena Westerdahl at Lund University, Sweden. Sandra is very happy to introduce the topic to you herself:
“We recently published the first structure of a Major Histocompatibility complex class I (MHC I) from a wild songbird, the Great reed warbler, in complex with different peptide antigens. The Great reed warbler is a long-distance migratory bird that winters in Sub-Saharan Africa and breeds in the Western Palearctic (which includes Europe) in summer. Migratory birds encounter a variety of different pathogens at their breeding, stop-over and wintering sites, and hence their immune system needs to be especially well adapted. MHC-I molecules are central to the adaptive immune system in vertebrates, since they present antigens to CD8 + T-cells, thus enabling the detection of intracellular pathogens. Our structures reveal an unusual conformation of pathogen-derived antigens (peptides) in the peptide-binding groove of the MHC I molecule of the Great reed warbler and provide a first step towards understanding the extraordinary immune adaptation capacity of migratory birds.”

The paper is entitled The structure of songbird MHC class I reveals antigen binding that is flexible at the N-terminus and static at the C-terminus, is published in Frontiers Immunology and can be found through this link (reference: doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2023.1209059). The presented X-ray structures from the proteins presented in this paper can be found in the Protein Data Bank with accession codes 7ZQI and 7ZQJ.

Do you want to meet Sandra? She will be running the “Kristalfabriek” at the Open Day at Amsterdam Science Park on 7th of October. You will get the change to crystallise Lysozyme and look at your self-made crystals.

In memoriam Raimond Ravelli (25-03-1968 – 30-06-2023)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Raimond Ravelli. It is a shock to everyone who knew him as a very enthusiastic and energetic scientist and person.

Mid April of this year he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Chemotherapy did not slow down the progress and on June 30th Raimond passed away at the age of 55. Raimond will be dearly missed by many colleagues and friends but most of all by his family, his wife Maaike and his children Seppe and Noé. Our thoughts are with them.

Please find the full in memoriam here.

Congratulations to Daan and Tassos!

Lately we have noticed that two of our members have something to celebrate!

Daan Swarts has received a NWO Vidi grant for continuing his work on the origin and evolution of RNA silencing pathways. We are looking forward to exciting science that will be funded by this grant. Congratulations, we are looking forward to the science to come! In case young scientist are interested in contributing to this work, according to Twitter positions will open soon.

Also, we congratulate Anastassis (Tassos) Perrakis, who has been elected as a member of EMBO joining leading researchers in the field of life sciences in Europe and beyond.

Our newsletter is out!

Here it is, our newsletter! In this edition we highlight the lab of our member Daan Swarts, who became an EMBO young investigator recently. Additionally, you can read about the first NVK young researchers retreat and Bram, our treasurer, introduces himself.

We recommend you to take a proper seat, enjoy the sun, have a read through the newsletter and enjoy the summer!

Do you have news to share with us?

It has been a year since we published our first online newsletter, and the second edition is about to come! Do you have any content to fit in, please notify us! To give you some examples of what might be interesting:

  • Upcoming crystallography related events
  • Awards that you or one of your students got
  • A short story about who you are (NVK member) and how you perform(ed) crystallography
  • Interesting old or new equipment you used to use or have just started to use
  • Recent publications involving crystallography
  • Recent trips, visitations, training schools, or talks that you attended/gave
It would be great to receive a nice picture or figure and 3-5 sentences of context. You can email content to pr@dutchcrystallographicsociety.nl at any time and we will publish it on our website (if content meets the NVK interests). Content you want to end up in the NVK newsletter 2023 should be shared by email before June 26th, 2023.

Sven enjoyed the NVBMB spring symposium

By: Sven Hennig

On Friday, 12.05.2023 the 2023 NVBMB Spring Symposium was held in Groningen. The topic of this spring centered around Recent Advances Structural Biology and included many scientific achievements using different techniques and sub-types of Crystallography, NMR and Electron Microscopy.  I was invited to give a talk on our developments in modulating transcription factor protein-protein interactions (Jeganathan & Wendt et al.) and was happy to join. The Spring Symposium also served as a kick-off meeting for the Structural Biology Platform (centered around Dirk Slotboom, Bert Janssen and Albert Gustkov), an interest group of Dutch structural biologist established in 2023 and serving as a platform to organize, discuss and exchange.

The NVBMB chair Luc Brunsveldt used the chance and valued the PhD work of Rebecca Halbach (Ronald van Rij and Pascal Miesen, Dept. Medical Microbiology and the Radboudumc Research Institute of Radboudumc) on piRNAs on vector mosquitos by awarding her the Westenbrink Price.

Overall a very nice event, well organized and full of scientific an structural interactions.

On the photo you see all people that provided a talk or otherwise contribution to the NVBMB spring symposium.