On the 30th November it was announced that the Artificial Intelligence computer programme AlphaFold had made a decisive breakthrough in the determination of the 3-D structures of proteins.
The announcement was immediately hailed as one of the major scientific advances of the decade.
Why is it important to understand the 3-D structures of protein, why are they difficult to construct, and what is the nature of AlphaFold’s advance? Why is this so exciting and what further advances in medicine and the other biosciences may result? To find out, join a conversation between Yvonne Jones, Director, Cancer Research UK Receptor Structure Research Group, Professor Phil Biggin, Professor of Computational Biochemistry, and Charles Godfray, Director, Oxford Martin School, who will explore these fascinating issues.
Professor Yvonne Jones FRS
Deputy Head, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine
Professor Yvonne Jones is Professor of Protein Crystallography at the University of Oxford
- Yvonne's research group is focused on the structural biology of extracellular recognition and signalling complexes
- Their core techniques include protein crystallography and, increasingly, cryo electron microscopy, which are used to generate high resolution structural information. Importantly, studies using these techniques are integrated with advanced light microscopy and cryo electron tomography, as well as cell-based functional studies, to probe molecular mechanisms at the cell surface.
- In 1999 Yvonne co-founded (with Dave Stuart) the Division of Structural Biology (STRUBI) in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine at Oxford.
- She is currently Joint Head of STRUBI and Deputy Head of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine.
- She is a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Academy of Medical Sciences as well as a Member of EMBO.
Professor Sir Charles Godfray FRS
Director, Oxford Martin School
Professor Sir Charles Godfray was appointed Director of the Oxford Martin School on 1 February 2018.
Professor Godfray is a population biologist with broad interests in the environmental sciences and has published in fundamental and applied areas of ecology, evolution and epidemiology. He is interested in how the global food system will need to change and adapt to the challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, and in particular in the concept of sustainable intensification, and the relationship between food production, ecosystem services and biodiversity. In 2017 he was knighted for services to scientific research and for scientific advice to government.
As well as leading the School, Professor Godfray is also a lead researcher of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food and the Oxford Martin Restatements project, a new approach to providing succinct summaries of scientific evidence around highly contentious topics.
Professor Phil Biggin
Professor of Computational Biochemistry
Professor Biggin is a University Lecturer in Biochemistry at the University of Oxford and a Tutorial Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. After a BSc in Computer-aided Chemistry and a D.Phil in ion channel biophysics, he undertook post-doctoral work with Senyon Choe at the Salk Institute in California with the award of a Wellcome Trust Prize International Travelling Fellowship. He returned to Oxford in 2000 and took up an RCUK fellowship in 2007 which converted to a lectureship in 2012. He became a Full Professor in 2016.
His research interests are in the application of computational methods to understand biochemical problems with a particular focus on membrane proteins and their interactions with small molecules and drugs. He is a charted chemist (CChem), a member of the British Biophysical Society, the Biophysical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society Chemistry (FRSC). He is also a founder member of Comp Chem Kitchen (http://compchemkitchen.org/), which organizes events open to academics and industry focussed on all aspects of computational chemistry. He is the current Chair of the Molecular Graphics and Modelling Society and sits on the committees of CCPBioSim and the high-end consortium for biomolecular simulation (HECBioSim). He is a panel member (biological sciences) of the REF 2021 exercise.