What if we had mastery over molecular machines?

Biology is a spectacular organisation of chemistry on the cellular and molecular level. Proteins form the gears, bearings and crankshafts of the engine that we know as a living organism. Diseases are caused by compromised machinery in the form of broken proteins, or invasion by foreign organisms.

Since the 1960s, structural biology has led the discovery process, establishing the rules of protein composition, expression, folding and static structure to subatomic accuracy. However, compared to this progress, we are not much further towards building our own machines and our own biotechnological engines, the ultimate form of green chemistry.

All engines work by having moving parts, and proteins are no exception. We must now focus on understanding the dynamics of proteins and how to edit them. The goal of this lab is to deliver precision engineering of protein structures.

The Protein Machinists lab is led by Dr. Helen Ginn. She is a Helmholtz Young Investigator at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, DESY. She has delivered the software suite Vagabond for refining protein structures in torsion angle space and cluster4x for comparing related crystal structures. She also has a scientific background in virology, working on the immune escape of SARS-CoV-2 variants and structural biology efforts against foot-and-mouth disease virus. Her doctorate was spent in reciprocal space at the University of Oxford working on improved algorithms for data reduction for serial crystallography. Her hobbies include dress-making, leathercraft and blacksmithing.