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European Integrated Structural Biology Infrastructure launching

Major transformations in biomedical science are on the horizon with the establishment of the world-class Integrated Structural Biology Infrastructure (Instruct) in support of European biomedical research.

The European Strategy Forum of Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) is involved in establishing about 40 such infrastructures, seven of them in biomedical sciences. Instruct is one such biomedical project, whose aim is to provide pan-European user access to state-of-the-art equipment, technologies and manpower in cellular structural biology. This will allow Europe to maintain a competitive edge and play a leading role in this vital research area.

The Weizmann Institute of Science, together with Tel Aviv University, has been chosen as one of the seven Core Centres, joining prestigious institutions in the UK, Italy, France and Germany.

"Structural Biology is a scientific area in which Israeli scientists have been leading for many years, as evidenced by Weizmann Institute's Prof. Ada Yonath, who won a Nobel Prize in 2009 for her pioneering work on solving the structure of ribosomes," says the Institute's Prof. Joel Sussman, Director of Israel's Instruct Core Centre.

Crucial to understanding how the living cell functions is knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of its proteins and nucleic acids, how these interact with one another, and their arrangement and dynamics within the cell. But no single discipline alone is able to decipher this. "In addition to the Weizmann Institute having developed world-class research programs in several of the disciplines relevant to Instruct, including electron microscopy, mass spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, NMR, bioinformatics and structural proteomics, the Israel Structural Proteomics Center (ISPC) has played a synergistic role in integrating and coordinating all these various disciplines," says Sussman. The ISPC was established by scientists from the Weizmann Institute, with Sussman as its director, in order to increase the efficiency of protein structure determination.

Mirroring the philosophy of the ISPC, Instruct will merge the information obtained by the various structural biology methods and techniques in order to provide a dynamic picture of key cellular processes, both in vivo and in vitro, on all scales from individual macromolecules, through complexes and organelles to the whole cell. This knowledge will permit major advances in understanding and treating diseases.

"Instruct will allow laboratories throughout Europe to gain ready access to the most advanced facilities, technologies and methodologies. Israeli scientists and their European counterparts will now have access to facilities they could only have dreamed of before," says Weizmann Institute's Prof. Gideon Schreiber, Deputy Director of Israel's Instruct Core Centre, as well as of the ISPC. "We hope this core centre will stimulate new collaborative research projects between laboratories throughout Europe with the Weizmann Institute and with other Israeli institutions, and also attract more graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scientists from all over the world."

Instruct will formally be launched at a signing ceremony in Brussels on 23rd February, 2012, and Weizmann Institute Vice President Prof. Haim Garty will be signing on behalf of the Weizmann Institute, Tel Aviv University and the State of Israel.


Contact: Yivsam Azgad
Weizmann Institute of Science

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