I would like to offer a warm welcome to the Principles of Protein Structure blog to all students who have just started studying Birkbeck's Principles of Protein Structure course!
I run this blog to link the material that you will be studying in the course to new research developments in the areas of protein structure and function and related aspects of biotechnology and medicine. Throughout the taught course (but more often in the later part of the course) I will post reports of recent developments. I might, example, report on talks given in the ISMB seminar series run jointly by the Department of Biological Sciences at Birkbeck and research departments in neighbouring University College London. The overall title of the programme for Autumn 2013 is Molecular Mechanisms of Intracellular Trafficking: an important topic that relates quite closely to some of the material we cover in the later sections of the course. Other posts may be reports from conferences or summaries of recently published papers in protein structure, protein bioinformatics and allied areas.
And one topic that you are bound to hear more of on this blog, particularly after the New Year, is the history of structural science, particularly X-ray crystallography. Crystallography was the first method to be developed for solving the structure of biological macromolecules, and it is still the most important. The United Nations has designated 2014 as the International Year of Crystallography - the date is between the centenaries of the publication of the first papers on X-ray diffraction and the award of the 1915 Nobel Prize for Physics to the father-and-son team of William and Lawrence Bragg who made the principal discoveries.
Some of the posts on this blog are written by "guest blogger" Jill Faircloth, who took the MSc in Structural Molecular Biology a few years ago and is now working as a freelance science communicator. She introduces herself in this post written in March 2012, in which she also describes how she found the later part of the PPS course and her thoughts on the two choices available for the second year of the MSc.
Do, if you get a chance, look through some of the earlier blog posts to see the kind of topics that we will be discussing. However, don't be discouraged if at this stage of the course you find the science presented there difficult to understand. I can assure you that it will get easier!
And the best of luck for the 2013-14 PPS course and for your studies at Birkbeck! We hope that many of you will go on to complete our MSc in Structural Molecular Biology.
Dr Clare Sansom
Senior Associate Lecturer, Biological Sciences, Birkbeck and Tutor, Principles of Protein Structure