The Leeuwenhoek Medal and Lecture 2022 given by Dr Sjors Scheres FRS.
We are intrigued by how proteins work. Our genetic code determines the amino acid sequence of proteins, which in turn determines their 3D structure. The precise 3D arrangement of thousands of atoms inside individual protein molecules allows them to perform the complicated tasks that are needed to keep us alive. Therefore, visualising the 3D atomic structures of proteins is a powerful way to find out more about how they work and what goes wrong in disease. Dr Scheres’ teams’ research focuses on the development and application of new methods for the study of protein structures by electron microscopy on frozen samples (cryo-EM).
In this lecture, Dr Scheres will explain how recent developments in cryo-EM have led to an explosion of new protein structures, where we can now see details down to individual atoms. Dr Scheres will highlight how some of our developments in image processing algorithms, and their implementation in the open-source computer program RELION, are helping scientists around the world to learn more about how proteins work. As an illustration of what is possible nowadays, Dr Scheres will also describe how his team have applied their methods to study protein samples that they extract from human brain tissue, and how these experiments are leading to exciting new insights into what goes wrong in neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions.