Garib Murshudov, a group leader in the LMB’s Structural Studies Division, and Lalita Ramakrishnan, a group leader in the University of Cambridge Molecular Immunity Unit at the LMB, have been newly elected as members of EMBO.
Founded in 1964 to promote molecular biology in Europe, EMBO elects new members annually in recognition of their contributions to scientific excellence. The major goals of the organisation are to support talented researchers and stimulate the exchange of scientific information. EMBO membership is a life-long honour and Garib and Lalita join more 1800 of the best researchers from Europe and around the world.
Knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of proteins is essential for understanding how they work. Development and improvement of methods is necessary for getting reliable atomic models of proteins for which structure determination has been difficult. Garib’s research centres on the development of efficient mathematical, statistical, and computational algorithms for macromolecular crystallography and electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM) structure analysis. Garib’s group then implements these algorithms in software tools to be distributed to other structural biologists to help with resolution of new protein structures. In particular, Garib’s group are interested in developing methods for determination of protein structure where there is only noisy and limited data. This involves combination of prior structural and chemical knowledge with experimental data.
Lalita’s research focuses on the pathogenesis of tuberculosis and the basis of vastly different susceptibilities to this disease. Tuberculosis infection results in the formation of complex structures known as granulomas, which contain multiple different types of immune cells. Lalita’s group has developed the zebrafish as a model to study immunity to tuberculosis, with the aim to improve our understanding of how the bacteria can persist in tuberculosis granulomas and how the granulomas form. They do this by monitoring the infection process in real-time and through the use of different genetic mutations in the host zebrafish or infection-causing bacteria. Findings made in the zebrafish are informing new strategies for intervention in human tuberculosis infection.