Electron cryo-Microscopy Spring Symposium – the conference Covid-19 couldn’t cancel!
27 Apr 2020
- Marion O'Sullivan



Today sees the start of the 2020 CCP-EM Spring Symposium for the Electron cryo-Microscopy (EM) community, and for the first time it is being held entirely online in a virtual format due to travel and social restrictions surrounding Covid-19. 

Model of a protein complex




​The response from the worldwide cryoEM community has been remarkable with nine times the usual ​number of people taking part.

This annual conference, which focuses on cryoEM methods to solve protein structures – vital for understanding how the cells in our bodies respond to diseases –​ was due to be held over the course of this week in Nottingham, and participants usually number around 300 or so.  This year the number of participants has soared to over 2,700 people.

Tom Burnley, who leads the CCP-EM core team within STFC's Scientific Computing Department, is delighted with the interest in this year's conference. He said, "With the conference season cancelled we wanted to bring the EM community together in these challenging times and have been amazed at the response.  As cryoEM provides a tool that can help understand the molecular mechanisms of COVID-19 and other diseases it's more important than ever that the EM community can share inspirational findings and exciting new methods."

This year's conference has a full agenda of exciting and thought–provoking talks and presentations from a good variety of people from within the EM community.  Participants will hear keynote talks from speakers such as Chris Russo, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, who will discuss how to design and build a perfect, and cost-effective, microscope; and Miroslava Schaffer, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, who will be presenting a stunning method to visualise proteins using cryo-electron tomography.

The conference kicked off this afternoon with the Diamond Light Source Biological Cryo-imaging User Meeting for eBIC & B24 with more than 1,000 people watching the first talk. It has given the organisers some food for thought in planning next year's event.

“It's really making us think about how to run the symposium in future", said Tom. “We still want to have the physical meeting but will be adding a 'remote' option to enable people to take part who couldn't normally attend due to child care, cost or time restraints ."

Anyone who would like to attend any of the sessions can still register here to join the webinar.

View the conference agenda.



Collaborative Computational Project CCP-EM is funded by the Medical Research Council, Welcome Trust and STFC Innovations.  It is hosted by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. It is supported via CoSeC (Computational Science Centre for Research Communities).

Contact: O'Sullivan, Marion (STFC,RAL,SC)