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IUCr 1995 Report - Commission on Biological Macromolecules

The major effort of the Commission during 1995 was concerned with the organization of an International Seminar- cum-School on Macromolecular Crystallographic Data held in Calcutta, India, 16-20 November 1995. The meeting was held in response to the long-felt need for transferring the considerable expertise that exists in North America and European Community countries on the deposition, validation, retrieval and use of macromolecular crystallographic data to the rest of the world. The Seminar-cum-School was organized at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics with Professor J. K. Dattagupta as the Convener. The Commission functioned as the International Programme Committee. The meeting was attended by 150 participants from 14 different countries and the lecturers included well known leaders in the area. The scientific programme consisted of lectures, demonstrations, discussions and hands-on sessions. The topics covered included protein and nucleic acid databases and their management; validation; database description tools; macromolecular CIF; CIF in crystallographic publications; data analysis; crystallization database; molecular modelling and biocomputing; molecular replacement; drug design; protein and nucleic acid structures; structural comparisons.

Two sessions at the Calcutta meeting were devoted to deposition policies. In fact, the discussions in these sessions followed those among the members of the Commission on this issue. Earlier, the issue was specifically raised with the Commission by the US National Committee for Crystallography. The discussion among the members of the Commission led to the conclusion that the most urgent requirement is the enforcement of the existing IUCr guidelines on data deposition. The Commission therefore recommended to the Executive Committee that it should take up the matter with major journals. There were comparatively minor divergences of views on modifications to the existing policy. It was decided that a consensus on the modifications could be arrived at through further discussions. The discussions at the Calcutta meeting also emphasized the urgency of enforcing the IUCr guidelines. The importance of depositing structure factors was also highlighted. Arising out of the discussions at Calcutta, a letter was addressed by a few of the leading participants to major journals on the need for enforcing the IUCr policy on deposition [e.g. Nature (London) (1996), 379, 202]. This has had the desired effect on some journals like Nature and Nature Structural Biology as evidenced by their insistence on data deposition before publication with effect from January 1996.

During 1995, the Commission extended its support to the 6th International Conference on Crystallization of Biological Macromolecules held 12-17 November 1995 in Hiroshima, Japan, and to the meeting on Experimental and Computational Approaches to Structure Based Drug Design, 8-19 May 1996, in Erice, Italy.

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