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.

Report of ECM33 in Versailles by Loes

The 33 European Crystallographic Meeting (ECM33) was held in the Palais des Congres from 23-27 August in Versailles. As always, a broad range of microsymposia was offered that were proposed and organized by the SIGs and Gigs (special/general interest groups) of the ECA. In addition, there were 16 keynote and 2 plenary lectures. The subjects range from the X-ray investigation of batteries for energy storage, total scattering studies and diffuse scattering, crystal engineering, quantum crystallography,  software development, 3D electron diffraction, large scale facilities, serial crystallography and time resolved studies as well as fold prediction of proteins. The commercial exhibitions allow one to get informed on the latest developments in equipment and techniques. Many of the companies are indispensable sponsors for the ECM organization.

The building presented a challenge to find the lecture rooms, with many stairs leading to the wrong side of the building and even the wrong floor. Apart from that the location was superb, just opposite the Chateau de Versailles, which is amazingly large, even if you know that.

This year it was the celebration of 25th anniversary of the ECA. There was a special celebration session, where almost all of the past presidents said a few words about their experiences. The session started with our member Paul Beurkens who was one of the co-founders of ECA. It was a great achievement to remodel the somewhat loose ECC that had been responsible for organizing the ECMs before. As it happened it was (almost) 50 years ago that the first ECM was held in Bordeaux. The ECA has national members, which are usually national crystallographic associations, like our NVK. Aside from that, crystallographers can also become individual members, and these are entitled to become member of the SIGs and have some other privileges.

There were almost 900 participants, so that is a success for the organization. It was very rewarding to meet colleagues in person again, after all the corona restrictions.

By: Loes Kroon-Batenburg

Canan Durukan enjoyed summer school at MAX-IV

Hello from Amsterdam! My name is Canan Durukan. Right after obtaining my master’s degree in Chemistry in Istanbul, Turkey, I started my PhD in Sven’s Lab at VU Amsterdam in summer 2020. My research focus is on bimolecular interactions and their modifications, specifically for protein-protein interaction modifications of the NF-Y transcription factor. The major part of my work so far was the study of proteins and ligand binding. It is both interesting and fun to carry out research about proteins and discover this complex world of proteins and crystallography.

Last June I attended a summer school about data collection and structure determination in macromolecular crystallography at MAX IV which is organized by MAX IV Laboratory and Aarhus University. There were both theoretical lectures given by international experts and practical exercises. It was pretty exciting and inspiring to be among the participants and have a chance to meet a group of experts in their field with great insights and having heard about their knowledge and experiences as well as being at a synchrotron and meeting beamline scientists. I do believe that these organizations, in which scientists from different places come together for sharing and exchanging knowledge, are very encouraging and valuable. We are mostly focused on our own work and these occasions help us step back and consider the big picture by seeing what everyone else is doing.

I joined the  NVK Young Researchers Retreat last September. It was nice to meet researchers in Dutch crystallography association in person.

Bio: Canan graduated from Yildiz Technical University, Turkey with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. She then started her Master’s studies in polymer chemistry at Istanbul Technical University. After her graduation in the summer 2020, she started her PhD in Sven’s lab at the beginning of August 2020 to work on understanding protein-protein interactions and their modifications.

Merry Christmas & a happy new year!

We really enjoyed meeting our members again at the symposium, and are very happy that we have welcomed a group of new members! Looking forward to meeting you after the holidays!


Inaugural lecture Dr. Raimond Ravelli – Nov. 18. 2022

Former chair of the NVK, Dr. Raimond Ravellli, will provide his inaugural lecture to be appointed Professor in Structural Biology on Friday November 18th, 2022 at Maastricht University. The title of this lecture is “Musing on Nanobiology” and will also be broadcasted through a live-stream. Please find more information here.

On his inauguration, Raimond Ravelli showed a beautiful animation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus life cycle, watch it here.


We are looking for you!

We are looking for someone with affinity for social media, who is willing to contribute in keeping track of the Twitter and LinkedIn accounts of the NVK. Please contact us if you are interested, it would be of great help!

From the lab: ERC grant

We (Sven Hennig and his team) are very excited to be part of Tom Grossmann’s project of fighting colorectal cancer using peptidomimetics. Tom just received an ERC PoC grant which is accelerating the kick-off for this endeavor. Together we have identified a family of peptidomimetic agents that bind beta-catenin and inhibit its interaction with the TCF/LEF transcription factors . For the first time, it was possible to obtain a crystal structure of a synthetic molecule bound to a therapeutically very attractive site on beta-catenin. In addition, we have confirmed cellular activity of these inhibitors verifying selective inhibition of the Wnt signalling pathway (Wendt et al. Angewandte Chemie, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.202102082). These findings provide the ideal starting point for the development of novel therapeutics for Wnt-dependent cancers, in particular for CRC. Press: https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/767299.

proCOLON: ERC Proof-of-Concept granted to investigate first-in-class beta-catenin inhibitors as treatment for colorectal cancer.

Development of a bicyclic β-hairpin structure that binds the transcriptional coactivator β-catenin (Wendt et al. Angewandte Chemie, 2021).

Next up: NVK Young Researchers Retreat

On September 29th and 30th, 2022, we are organizing the NVK Young Researchers Retreat! Please find the preliminary program and registration details here.

All participants will present their work, both PhD students and early researchers working in industry or industry are welcome to contribute, which will result in a wonderful and inspiring program! Our key-note speaker, Dr. Yesid A. Ramirez, will talk about his research related to . Additionally there will be plenty of time to network with our sponsors from industry, and of course with your fellow young crystallographers. Also, the career session will provide a overview of career options and plenty of time to discuss these with people who have been in the field for a longer time, both industry and academic science.

In short: interesting science, plenty of options to network, think a bit about your future career, and of course we will have a lot of fun! We hope to see you there!