Harald Schwalbe Appointed as New Instruct-ERIC Director

Prof. Dr. Harald Schwalbe, Goethe University Frankfurt (Photo: Jürgen Lecher, Goethe University)

Instruct-ERIC has appointed Professor Harald Schwalbe as its new Director, succeeding Professor Sir David Stuart in the role.

Integrated structural biology has demonstrated its innovative power in a breath-taking manner in recent years, notably with impressive technological advances. As a European distributed research infrastructure, Instruct-ERIC has been at the forefront of this technological innovation, with centres across the continent providing access to advanced structural biology equipment and techniques.

The COVID-19 pandemic made it increasingly clear that coordinated research is required to utilise the power of structural biology to structurally understand the impact of new mutations in variants of concern. Such coordinated research has been conducted within Instruct-ERIC centres, providing a huge boost for vaccine development and drug discovery.

It is at this transition period that Prof. Harald Schwalbe from Goethe-University Frankfurt becomes the new Instruct-ERIC director as successor of Prof. David Stuart from Oxford University and Diamond Light Source. 

David Stuart commented: “Instruct has been at the forefront of the transition of structural biology into a field that routinely provides deep insights from atomic structure to cellular function and disease. It has been a real privilege to have been involved in setting up the infrastructure and working with leading scientists across Europe and the fantastic staff at the Oxford hub, to realise a vision that, although now widely accepted, seemed far-fetched when it was laid out over ten years ago. The next ten years will see fundamental change across the experimental modalities with increasing integration of experiment with computation as AI and deep learning develop more predictive power to help make sense of the avalanche of experimental data. I look forward to seeing Harald lead Instruct as it responds to the exciting challenges and opportunities.”

Harald Schwalbe: “It will be key to strengthen European research in Structural Biology. In NMR spectroscopy, new 1.2 GHz machines are available, pushing the boundaries for solid-state and liquid-state NMR spectroscopy. Technology advances for cryo-EM single particle and tomography analyses are impressive.”

“The initiatives in structural biology have an impact not just on a continental scale, but also at a global level. Access needs to be provided to maximise the research impact. Given the pandemic – but also the requirements from global societal challenges – it will be important to link global research endeavours for the benefit of fundamental and applied research, and for fast reactions to immediate threats and challenges.”

“I am taking over from Dave Stuart with huge gratitude. He has paved the way for coordinated European research in structural biology.”

Professor Harald Schwalbe’s career so far has led to him being well known both for development of NMR methods and pulse sequences, and their application to very challenging questions in Chemistry and Biology. His NMR contributions thus have tremendous impact to understand biological processes. 

Instruct-ERIC is a pan-European distributed research infrastructure making high-end technologies and methods in structural biology available to users. ERIC stands for European Research Infrastructure Consortium, and refers to a specific legal form that facilitates the establishment and operation of Research Infrastructures with European interest, on a not-for-profit basis. ERICs are funded by subscription from member countries and governed by member country representatives. Instruct-ERIC is comprised of 15 Member Countries: Belgium, Czech Republic, EMBL, Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and United Kingdom, and one Observer Country: Greece. Through its specialist research centres in Europe, Instruct-ERIC offers funded research visits, training, internships and R&D awards. By promoting integrative methods, Instruct-ERIC enables excellent science and technological development for the benefit of all life scientists. More on https://instruct-eric.org/

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