John Kendrew Lecture to be given by Jacques Dubochet

Jacques Dubochet
© Felix Imhof – UNIL 2017

Jacques Dubochet will give the 2018 John Kendrew Lecture on Thursday 26th April at 4.00pm in the LMB’s Max Perutz Lecture Theatre.  The title of the lecture is ‘Electron cryo-microscopy: 45 years of science and society’.  The event is open to anyone in the local area who is interested in attending.

Since the late 1960’s, Jacques interest has been in the electron microscopy (EM) study of DNA, and the development of EM techniques.  He was the first to harness the use of water in EM, which under normal circumstances would evaporate, by discovering the process of water vitrification, applying this to specimens, and developing electron cryo-microscopy (cryo-EM).  This technique would revolutionise structural biology.   By enabling specimens to be kept in their natural state, not altered by dyes or fixatives, researchers could see structures at unprecedented resolution.  More recently, he has been involved in the development of cryoEM of vitreous sections (CEMOVIS), which when combined with computerised electron tomography for 3-D reconstruction, has made it possible to see the atomic structure of large protein complexes.

Jacques studied physics at Lausanne and was awarded a degree in physical engineering in 1967.  He then studied for a Certificate in Molecular Biology at the University of Geneva and undertook his PhD in biophysics at the University of Geneva and University of Basel.  In 1978 he started his group at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg.  He moved to the University of Lausanne (UNIL) in 1987 as Professor of Biophysics, and became Emeritus Professor when he retired in 2007.  Jacques has received numerous awards for his work, including EMBL’s Lennart Philipson Award in 2014 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2017, jointly with Joachim Frank and the LMB’s Richard Henderson, for the development of electron cryo-microscopy.

Lecture abstract:

 The talk retraces the long path that culminated with the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The MRC in Cambridge was never far away.

Background information:

The John Kendrew Lecture is named in honour of LMB Nobel Laureate John Kendrew. It is one of a series of named lectures organised by the LMB to be given by eminent scientists from around the world.

John Kendrew was born in Oxford on 24th March 1917. He studied chemistry at Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated in 1939. During World War II he worked on radar for the Air Ministry Research Establishment. In 1946 he returned to Cambridge and joined Max Perutz at the MRC ‘Unit for Research on the Molecular Structure of Biological Systems’ (now the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology) where his research focused on protein structure and the X-ray analysis of myoglobin. In the 1960′s John jointly founded the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) and helped create and was first Director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). He also founded and was Editor in Chief of the Journal of Molecular Biology. From 1981-1987 he was President of St John’s College, Oxford. He died in Cambridge on 23rd August 1997.

Further references:

Jacques Dubochet’s lab page
Jacques Dubochet’s Nobel Prize page
Poster for the John Kendrew Lecture
John Kendrew biography