Visitors, colleagues and friends,
The last month of June was totally occupied with professional and personal activities. The celebration of an homage to my dear friend Ignacio Fita (‘Ignasi’ for friends and colleagues) of the Institute of Biología Molecular de Barcelona prompted an extended visit to Spain combining professional and personal activities.

Lecture: 30-years-of-macromolecular-crystallography-in-barcelonaThe homage to Prof. Fita was organized by two of his early students, Prof. Nuria Verdaguer (IBMB, SBU-CSIC) and Prof. Alba Guarné (McGill University, Montréal, Canada) and superbly coordinated logistically by Laia Vives (SBU-CSIC). You can read all the details at http://www.ibmb.csic.es/seminars-news/news/30-years-of-macromolecular-crystallography-in-barcelona. I presented a personal and historical lecture tracing our (Dr. Fita’s and mine) professional and personal trajectories and linking them to the development and achievements of macromolecular crystallography in Barcelona.

More importantly, it was a memorable occasion for all friends, colleagues and collaborators of ‘Ignasi’ to get together for a couple of days of friendship and celebration in beautiful Barcelona. (The content of the lecture is available upon request on a personal and confidential basis).

Prior to this meeting, June 14-15, I presented also a plenary lecture at the 10th World Congress on Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Design that took place also in Barcelona. This lecture was an oral and expanded version of the editorial ‘Are SAR Tables Obsolete presented previously in this News and Views and related to the editorial published in Drug Discovery Today approximately a year ago. See the ‘Efficiency-Based Drug Design’ tab for the pdf version of this lecture. Two additional important points emphasized in this lecture are the use of ‘Alternative Variables’ (i.e. Ligand Efficiency Indices) in Drug Discovery, and the introduction (or hopefully ‘recollection’ from younger years) of ‘polar coordinates’ to medicinal chemists to facilitate the navigation in Chemico-Biological Space, using the ‘efficiency planes’ already discussed within this website, as well as the AtlasCBS server.

Last, but not least, was the plenary lecture presentation at the 6IIBB2018 (6th International Iberian Biophysics Congress), in Castellón de la Plana (Comunidad Valenciana), Spain (June 20-22).

IIBC logo 2018I was honored to be invited to present a lecture to the participants, no doubt due to my ‘gray hair’, and possibly also due to my early interests in the field of Structural Biology and Biophysics in my student days in Spain in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

I was indeed pleased and honored to address the attendees and younger participants. My intent was to inspire the younger generations of biophysicists using the achievements, insights and ideas of no other than Francis H.C. Crick. In preparation for the lecture, I enjoyed reading several books about and by the unique iconic figure of Francis Crick (references are presented in the last slide of the lecture).

The first part of the lecture draws from the earlier publication in the journal Arbor of the CSIC (see below), celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the birth of Crystallography. The article is accessible from the following link: http://arbor.revistas.csic.es/index.php/arbor/issue/current. The second part is more speculative and presents the notion that, in the same way that ‘What is Life’ by E. Schrödinger inspired the early biophysicists in the 1940s, the ideas and insights that Crick pursued and published in the late part of his life with his close collaborator (Christof Koch), could inspire the younger generations of biophysicists. There is much to be done!

The full content of the lecture can be downloaded in pdf format.


MtFBPase-tetramerOur efforts related to developing Structure-Based methods and targets related to the Mycobacterium tuberculosis have reached a significant milestone with the recent publication in Acta Crystallographica D of the three-dimensional structure of the essential enzyme Fructose-1,6-Bisphosphatase (MtFBPase). This target has been shown by members of our group to be essential for the growth of the Tb mycobacterium in non-glucose media, such as glycerol. The structure belongs to the Class II FBPase, distinct to the Class I FBPases found in mammalian organisms. Although related to the equivalent enzyme in E. coli, the structure of MtFBPase is most similar to the one present in Synechocystis (blue-green algae, strain 6803).

The structure has been published in Acta Cryst D as an open-access publication. The article can be found at:http://scripts.iucr.org/cgi-bin/paper?S2059798318002838.

Full citation is: Acta Crystallographica Section D: Structural Biology, 2018, Volume D74, pgs. 321-331.
My colleagues and I look forward to your comments.