CCP4 Crystallographic School
in South Africa
Data Collection to Structure Refinement and Beyond

Digital Conference

University of Cape Town, South Africa

22 February - 5 March 2021

Trevor Sewell

Department Aaron Klug Center for Imaging & Analysis
Institution University of Cape Town, South Africa

Trevor Sewell studied Physics and Applied Mathematics at Wits. This led to an MSc under the supervision of Sheila Saffer on the structure of the protein layer of the erythrocyte membrane. During this time, he met Tom Blundell who agreed to supervise his PhD in Protein Crystallography at Birkbeck, London. On his return to South Africa in 1980 he lectured in Biochemistry at the University of Cape Town for ten years. In 1991 he was then given the opportunity to re-establish the Electron Microscope Unit at a time when three-dimensional reconstruction of protein molecules by the “Single Particle Method” was being invented. He was able to work in this field while being mentored by Helen Saibil at Birkbeck and ultimately set up South Africa’s first cryo-Electron Microscope with the assistance of the Wellcome Trust. He established a successful Masters programme in Structural Biology that attracted students from all over Africa, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The structures that he has determined have had relevance as potential drug targets or as industrial enzymes. He has contributed, over three decades, to the current understanding of the structure and mechanism of enzymes of the nitrilase superfamily. He is currently the national co-ordinator of the bioscience component of START (Synchrotron Techniques for African Research and Technology) led by the Diamond Light Source.

Structure determination of macromolecules has, without question, revolutionized the understanding of biochemistry. Insights obtained from the atomic structures of protein molecules, in addition, find application in drug design, the design of pesticides and herbicides and in industrial enzymology for drug manufacture. Investment in the discipline of Structural Biology in South Africa is urgently needed to stimulate our national efforts in both medical science and biotechnology.

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IUPAP Support for Free Circulation of Scientists / Policy on Harassment

The CCP4 2020 workshop supports the International Union of Pure and Applied Physicists (IUPAP) Policy on Free Circulation of Scientists and the IUPAP policy statement on harassment at conferences.

Free Circulation of Scientists: The principle of the Universality of Science is fundamental to scientific progress. This principle embodies freedom of movement, association, expression and communication for scientists, as well as equitable access to data, information and research materials. In pursuing its objectives with respect to the rights and responsibilities of scientists, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) actively upholds this principle, and, in so doing, opposes any discrimination on the basis of such factors as ethnic origin, religion, citizenship, language, political stance, gender, or age. IUPAP should only sponsor conferences and events at institutions and in countries that uphold this principle. If scientists are excluded from attending IUPAP-sponsored international conferences by a host institution or country on the basis of any of these factors, IUPAP should register its concern at the highest level of that institution or country, and should not sponsor any future events in that country until such exclusions have been eliminated. [ Section 1. (]

Harrassment at Conferences: It is the policy of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) that all participants in Union, and Union-endorsed activities will enjoy an environment which encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas, and is free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. The conference organisers will name an advisor who will consult with those who have suffered from harassment and who will suggest ways of redressing their problems, and an advisor who will counsel those accused of harassment. The conference organisers may, after due consideration, take such action they deem appropriate, including warning or expulsion from the conference without refund. [Section 4 IUPAP Conference Policies , weblink (]

Gender balance and the IUCr

The International Union of Crystallography strives to achieve gender balance in all its institutions and activities bearing in mind other diversity needs and its existing obligations to geographic and academic discipline representation where appropriate. To achieve this aim the IUCr will adopt procedures to promote gender balance in respect of all of its activities including selection of candidates for positions on its Committees and Commissions. Those seeking support from the Union for Congresses, meetings, workshops and schools will also have to demonstrate their efforts to address gender balance.

CCP4 Crystallographic School in South Africa