ShanghaiTech welcomed heavyweight speaker Henry Chapman, director of the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) and professor at University of Hamburg (Germany). As a guest of the 17th International Conference on Crystallization of Biological Macromolecules (ICCBM17 2018) and the 6th iHuman Forum, Professor Chapman gave a speech entitled “Imaging Macromolecules with X-ray Laser Pulses” to ShanghaiTech faculty, students and attendees in the conference center.
ShanghaiTech Vice President and Provost Yin Jie introduced ShanghaiTech and iHuman Institute Executive Director Liu Zhijie, chairman of the conference, introduced Professor Chapman's research background and academic achievements. In his speech, Professor Chapman happily shared new techniques and methods of X-ray research in structural biology. He explained that X-rays can help scientists shoot clear 3D photos of biomacromolecule crystals, liked taking a biomacromolecule group photo.” However, during the imaging process, X-rays cause certain radiation damage to the biological sample and can affect the resolution of the photo. Before the advent of X-ray free electron lasers, the radiation damage problem was not solved but now imaging can be performed quickly by using ultra-strong X-ray free electron laser pulses to complete imaging before the sample is damaged. Professor Chapman also mentioned that research in this area has achieved initial success but the latest development direction of X-ray free electron lasers is to directly shoot single shots of biological macromolecules without prior crystallization, which requires stronger X-ray free electron lasers and more advanced imaging equipment. “If we can achieve this goal,” he said “it will be a huge leap in human biology in the field of structural biology.”
After his speech, Professor Yin Jie thanked Professor Chapman for sharing his insights with the ShanghaiTech community and handed him a plaque as a token of appreciation to Professor Chapman on behalf of university.
Students said the speech gave them a deeper understanding of the scientific facilities that ShanghaiTech is leading or participating in the development of, including the Hard X-ray Free Electron Laser Device, Soft X-ray Free Electron Laser User Device and Living Cell Imaging Platform, and Super Ultra-Short Laser Experimental Device. They said they feel confident to devote themselves to scientific research in the future using these hi-tech scientific facilities.
Professor Chapman is one of the pioneers in applying the X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) to the analysis of crystal structures. The research team he leads analyzed an important protein structure using XFEL Serial Crystallography and published their research in December 2012. Later, Professor Chapman and the team continued to promote the development of the field in XFEL data collection and data processing methods.