Instruct-ERIC was launched at a ceremony in London

At a Royal Society awards ceremony celebrating the prestigious new European Commission-approved status for structural biology Instruct Research Infrastructure, UK Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson recognised the value and relevance of collaborative work between the UK and European scientists.

Instruct is a pan-European partnership giving researchers vital access to advanced instrumentation and the necessary training. The equipment is typically very expensive and requires specific technical experience. Technology and infrastructure are at the heart of the revolution to connect atomic resolution of molecular structures with functionality at the cellular level, and technical advances are constantly pushing the science forward.

The new legal status for Instruct transforms it into a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), joining 16 others across Europe. As the second UK-hosted ERIC, Instruct will provide the European structural biology community with continued access to high-quality, stable and sustainable services.

Over the past four decades, European researchers have played a pivotal role in developing increasingly sophisticated technologies including super-powerful cryo-electron microscopes. Instruct has been supported since its inception by the Medical Research Council, on behalf of the UK as the host country.

Instruct provides access to some of the most sophisticated methods that allows researchers to generate images of molecules at near-atomic level, in far greater detail than was previously possible. This detail allows them to understand how the molecular machines in our bodies work and determine the building blocks of proteins, viruses and cells. Cryo-EM, one of the key technologies at the forefront of the structure revolution, is allowing researchers to better understand how diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease, affect the brain, and how specific molecules involved in causing disease might be targeted with drugs or vaccines.

Minister Jo Johnson was able to announce at the event new multi-million pound funding for further cryo-EM facilities in UK, some of which will be available through the Instruct Centre UK, located in Oxford and the Harwell Research Campus. This investment combined with the new status of Instruct-ERIC, will enable the best and brightest minds across Europe to continue to share knowledge and state-of-the-art equipment, to advance discovery science and improve human health.

Professor David Stuart, Director of Instruct-ERIC and MRC Professor at the University of Oxford, said: “Continued stability for partnerships across Europe is invaluable at this critical and exciting time for structural biology. International collaboration has always been important for structural biology as we need the collective knowledge and skills of chemists, physicists, computer scientists and biologists to develop the technology, before we can advance the science. Today’s announcements represent a welcome commitment to strengthening infrastructure, research collaborations and enabling the brightest minds to work together across borders.”

Dr Nathan Richardson, MRC Head of Molecular and Cellular Medicine and Chair of Instruct-ERIC Council, said: “We’re delighted to be able to provide extra support, complementary to other investments, enabling access for even more researchers to cutting-edge technology at a crucial time, allowing them to tackle the biological questions that will help advance human health.”

Photographs of the events are available upon request

Instruct launch signals new opportunities for European science

Instruct Press Office

Breakthroughs in biomedical science are a step closer today, with the launch of a new distributed research infrastructure for the science of structural biology. The launch of ‘Instruct’ will give academic and commercial scientists across Europe access to a full portfolio of integrated technologies, thanks to the collaboration of fourteen of Europe’s leading structural biology research institutes.

Prof. Dave Stuart, Instruct Director, said; “Never before have European biologists had a single point of access to all the technology and expertise they need to further their research. By bringing together the different disciplines, technologies and experts in European biology, Instruct will be helping to make the vision of truly integrated biology a reality for the first time.”The first researcher to test the unique access to technology through Instruct, Dr. Colin McVey from the Instituto de Tecnologia Química e Biológica, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, is using Instruct to further his research in structural immunology. Dr. McVey, said: “I am delighted that my proposal has been accepted by Instruct. It will be of great advantage and benefit for me, and for other European researchers, to be able to access the best technology around Europe through a single application. I am looking forward to carrying out the work with the help of the technology experts and to further my research development.”Instruct provides access to some of the most advanced technology in the world, such as sample preparation for cryo-electron tomography using ion beam milling housed at the Max Planck Institute Martinsried in Germany and the automated system for mammalian expression housed at Oxford in the UK, both of which are at the frontier of current technology. A full catalogue of the accessible technology is available on the Instruct Hub at Dino Moras, Principal Investigator at IGBMC-CERBM Instruct Centre in Strasbourg added; "Structural biology is at a critical stage where close integration with cell biology will open up new and powerful insights into treating diseases, from killer cancers to the common cold. Instruct will have a big impact on medical advances over the next decade."Instruct is a thriving online community of over 500 scientists from 25 countries. Each user can tailor their profile to match their interests and priorities. The Instruct Hub includes adverts for jobs and academic programmes and a comprehensive calendar of events, discussion forums and plans for virtual workspaces for collaborative projects in the near future. The Instruct Hub is also home to a number of networks of scientists with a common interest or objective.Eight countries; Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom have subscribed, ensuring that researchers from those countries can access the technology and expertise offered through Instruct.The 15 Instruct Centres are providing up to 20% of their resources for access through Instruct. This resource is worth in excess of €4million but costs more to maintain and develop.The single Instruct application process is used to access all the technology available at all of the Instruct centres, often as collaborations. The online application process includes review of the science and a technical feasibility appraisal.Stephen Cusack, Head of Outstation of EMBL in Grenoble invited researchers to join Instruct: “The Instruct website, ‘the Hub’ is at the heart of what Instruct can offer, from the research proposal application process and the database of technologies to the forums and collaborative workspaces. Additionally, it has a wealth of useful resources like the calendar of events, job adverts and information about funding. We are inviting researchers from all disciplines to register on so that they can make the most of Instruct.”Instruct will be formally launched at a signing ceremony in Brussels on 23 of February attended by the Principal Investigators of each of the Instruct Centres, the national and regional funding agencies and Robert-Jan Smits, European Commission Director-General for Research and Innovation.NOTE TO EDITORSInstruct is the dynamic hub of structural biology providing an integrated infrastructure of cutting edge technology, scientific expertise and pioneering training. Instruct contributes to the strategic leadership of structural biology in Europe by promoting an integrated approach to technology and methodologies.Instruct’s objectives are set by the Instruct Council and Executive Committee. The Independent Scientific Advisory Board, the Peer Review Committee, the Instruct Centres Forum and user groups all provide advice. Instruct is led by the Instruct Director and employs a small management team. The management and operation of Instruct is delivered through Instruct Academic Services, a not-for-profit organisation.Instruct is one of ten European biomedical science research infrastructure projects funded as part of the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme. Instruct is part of the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).In addition to the resources provided by Instruct Centres, member states pay a subscription to meet operational costs. The subscription gives the scientists from those countries access to all that Instruct offers and representation on the Instruct Council, which sets strategic direction of theorganisation.List of Instruct Centres and Principal Investigators1. University of Oxford: David Stuart2. IGBMC-CERBM: Dino Moras3. PSB, Grenoble: Stephen Cusack (EMBL, Grenoble) and Eva Pebay-Peyroula (IBS, Grenoble)4. CIRMMP Consortium and University of Florence - CERM: Ivano Bertini5. Weizmann Institute of Science: Joel Sussman6. Max Planck Institute of Biophysics and Goethe University Frankfurt IBPC: Hartmut Michel and Frank Bernhard7. Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry: Wolfgang Baumeister8. Utrecht University with University of Oxford: Albert Heck and Carol Robinson9. EMBL, Heidelberg/Hamburg: Christoph Mueller and Matthias Wilmanns10. CCISB, Harwell: Martyn Winn11. University of Helsinki: Dennis Bamford12. Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research: Dirk Heinz13. Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology: Hartmut Oschkinat14. University of Tel Aviv: Haim Wolfson15. Centro Nacional de Biotecnología: Jose-Maria CarazoThere are additional National Centres affiliated to Instruct, a full list is available on the Instruct website.List of national and regional funding agenciesCentral European Institute of Technology, CEITEC (CZ)Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (FR)Max-Planck-Gesellschaft e.V., Helmholtz Association, Leibniz Association (DE)European Molecular Biology Laboratory (pan-European)Regione Toscana (IT)Ministry of Science and Technology (IL)Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NL)Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (PT)Medical Research Council (UK)PhotographyPhoto images of scientists using technologies at Instruct Centres are available on request. Photos of the signing ceremony will also be available from 23 February 2012.Fairley & Associates led the programme, defined the brand, digital and engagement strategies, content and communications. Felt Branding created the brand’s identity from scratch. Hildebrand built the intelligent, multifunctional Instruct

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