On August 31, Columbia University Professor and 2017 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry Joachim Frank delivered the first ShanghaiTech Lecture of the new academic year on “Single-particle cryo-EM -- A Journey to High Resolution without Crystals” to a packed auditorium.
Vice President Gong Jinkang introduced the host of this lecture series, Professor Kurt Wüthrich, Distinguished Adjunct Professor of iHuman Institute since 2013 and recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for determining the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules in solution.
Professor Wüthrich in turn gave a humorous introduction to Professor Frank. In his nearly one-hour lecture, Professor Frank explained the composition of cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and discussed how the advent of direct electron detection cameras has propelled a long-existing technique of visualization to the forefront of structural biology. Molecules are imaged in their native, hydrated states without the need for crystallization. Density maps at resolutions in the 2-4 Å range allow atomic models to be built. Reconstructions showing a molecule in multiple conformations and binding states can be obtained simultaneously from the same sample. This development promises to expand the range of biological molecules in the cell that are possible targets for drug design. Professor Joachim Frank's vivid speech and humorous metaphors won the audience's rapt attention and they awarded him with sustained applause.
“Great scientists always make great discoveries!,” said Vice President Gong as he thanked Professor Joachim Frank for his wonderful speech on behalf of ShanghaiTech University, and gave him a commemorative ShanghaiTech Lecture plaque.
The ShanghaiTech Lecture attracted many ShanghaiTech freshmen, who said afterwards they were very happy to have the opportunity to listen to a speech by a Nobel Prize winner.
Professor Joachim Frank is a German-American dual nationality biophysicist. He was born in Germany on September 12, 1940, received his Ph.D. from the Technical University of Munich in 1970 and is currently a professor at Columbia University. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and the fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2006, and received the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science of the Franklin Institute in 2014. He is regarded as the founder of single-particle cryo-EM, for which he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017 with Jacques Dubochet and Richard Henderson. He has also made significant contributions to structure and function of the ribosome form bacteria and eukaryotes.