Public Release: 

Crystallographers meet in Los Angeles

American Institute of Physics

Using chemistry to identify and authenticate historic artwork, a new report on the protein responsible for mad cow disease, and a new chocolate manufacturing process are just a few of the highlights at this week's annual meeting of the American Crystallographic Association (ACA) taking place at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.

The science of the properties and formation of crystals, crystallography, provides much of the basis for the modern sciences of chemistry and molecular biology. Among other things, crystallographers study the detailed atomic arrangements of protein crystals - which gives researchers insight into the nature of living organisms, and can lead to advances in pharmaceutical drug and vaccine development.

Some highlights from the meeting include:

  • Symposium of using crystallography for structural genomics (determining the 3-D structures of complex biomolecules) and the discovery of new pharmaceutical drugs
  • Session including a new report on the three-dimensional structure of a prion protein, which may help explain the molecular basis for mad cow disease
  • A talk on the chemical composition of the paint color 'Naples Yellow,' sponsored in part by Christie's auction house, which can help researchers identify and authenticate artwork from the 16th-20th centuries
  • Session which includes a paper on high resolution studies of cocoa crystals leading to a new way to make better quality chocolate confections
  • Symposium on diffraction (the phenomenon that makes crystallography possible) celebrating the centennial anniversary of the National Institute of Science and Technology
  • Elizabeth Wood Science Writing Award to K.C. Cole of the Los Angeles Times for her book 'The Universe and the Teacup'
  • Creation of a new award to honor distinguished UCLA crystallographer, Professor Kenneth Trueblood

The meeting is taking place at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles, from July 21-26. For more information: Marcia Evans, American Crystallographic Association 213-426-4902


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