The Annual Krebs Lecture

The increasing power of cryoEM for macromolecular structure determination

Richard Hendersonby Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Professor Richard Henderson

Tuesday 24 April 2018, 6pm, Lecture Theatre 1, The Diamond

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Enquiries, Email: eventsteam@sheffield.ac.uk, T: 0114 222 1030/222 8893


The University welcomed 400 students, staff, alumni and members of the public to the Annual Krebs Lecture.  The guest speaker for the evening was the 2017 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Professor Richard Henderson, FRS FMedSci. Professor Henderson is a molecular biologist, biophysicist and a pioneer in the field of electron microscopy of biological molecules.

Professor Henderson’s lecture discussed the increasing power of cryoEM for macromolecular structure determination.

In the last few years, single particle electron cryomicroscopy (cryoEM) has experienced a quantum leap in its capability, due to improved electron microscopes, better detectors and better software, and this is revolutionising structural biology. Using the technique invented by Jacques Dubochet and his colleagues, a thin film containing a suspension of the macromolecules of interest is plunge-frozen into liquid ethane at liquid nitrogen temperature, creating a frozen sample in which individual images of the structures can be seen in many different orientations. Subsequent computer-based image analysis is used to determine the three-dimensional structure, frequently at near-atomic resolution. Professor Henderson described some recent results and discussed the remaining barriers to progress.

The lecture elucidated that CryoEM is already a very powerful method, but there are still many improvements that can be made before the approach reaches its theoretical limits".

Audience feedback

"The lecture was excellent, even for someone who didn't really have a grasp of the science involved."

"A very interesting talk and a well organised event."