European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences

Our inspiring educational experiences share the scientific discoveries of EMBL with young learners aged 10-19 years and teachers in Europe and beyond.

EMBL Insight Lecture 2017


The EMBL Insight Lecture 2017 “Seeing is Believing – How Technology enables Structural Biology” was presented by Professor Thomas R. Schneider on 1 December 2017. Find out more and watch the recording below.

Structural Biology is a branch of biology concerned with the molecular structure of biological macromolecules such as proteins, DNA, and their complexes. As in many other areas of life, seeing the details of an object often allows us to have an idea of its purpose and its function. For biological molecules, the details of interest are the positions of the atoms of which the molecule is made. Since the 1950’s, the major method for looking at the details of biological molecules has been macromolecular crystallography.

In the EMBL Insight Lecture, senior scientist and group leader Dr. Thomas R. Schneider describes the basic principles of macromolecular crystallography and illustrates the major contributions of this method to the understanding of basic processes of life. He discusses how progress in technology has continuously increased the reach of macromolecular crystallography in life sciences research and how large Research Infrastructures such as synchrotrons have become invaluable for scientific progress.

Concepts covered

• Cell proteasome
• Crystallography
• Diffraction data collection
• Crystal structures of DNA and myoglobin-Nobel prices in the field
• EMBL Hamburg Beamlines at the Petra III synchrotron
• RNA Pol II architecture
• Crystals mounting and automatic shooting
• Diffraction and electron density
• Protein Data Bank (PDB)

Watch lecture

The EMBL Insight Lecture is available via on-demand-streaming from this website. You can watch it directly in the window below. Alternatively, you can open the EMBL Insight Lecture here.

Student articles

The EMBL Insight Lecture 2017 was received very well by students. Several of them decided to put their experience into words and wrote articles about the lecture.

“My expectations were exceeded” – Friends of EMBL Teens, Heidelberg, Germany (in English)
Seeing is believing” – Liceo Scientifico Internazionale, Turin, Italy (in English)
“Vom Innenleben einer Zelle” – AKG Bensheim, Germany (in German)
Und 150000-mal pro Sekunde grüßt das Elektron – AMG Ettlingen (in German)

Topic area:  Structural & Computational biology, Microscopy & Imaging

Age group:  16-19