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Cambridge Science Festival 2013

The festival this year saw the premiere of three new animations. The first animation shows all of the major organelles of the human cell, including a dynamic network of mitochondria that are involved in fusion and fission events. The basic structure of a mitochondrion with the inner and outer membrane and cristae is also explained. The second one illustrates some of the major events of energy conversion at the mitochondrial inner membrane, featuring isocitrate dehydrogenase, Complex I, ATP synthase, mitochondrial transport proteins, the voltage gated anion channel, and hexokinase.

Cambridge Science Festival 2012

To highlight the central role that mitochondria play in cellular energy metabolism, we produced an animation showing the breakdown of a simple sugar molecule; from its uptake in the intestine to the series of energy conversion steps that lead to the synthesis of ATP in the mitochondrial matrix. After the sugar molecule enters the blood stream in the intestine, it is taken up by the human cell and undergoes a series of breakdown reactions in the cytoplasm of the cell to form pyruvate, which is subsequently transported into the mitochondrion (see figure below).

Directorship of the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit

After fifteen years as Director of this Unit, John Walker has stepped down from this role. Known originally as the MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit, it was renamed the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in 2009. John will continue to pursue his research interests at the MBU.

John Walker receives the Nation's top scientific accolade

At its Anniversary Day (30 November 2012), The Royal Society of London, this country's Academy of Sciences, celebrated the award of its premier distinction, the 2012 Copley Medal, to Sir John Walker for his contributions towards understanding how energy is produced in biology. The Copley Medal, first given in 1731 is the world's oldest award for scientific achievement, predating the Nobel Prize by 170 years. Previous winners include Captain James Cook, Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Francis Crick and Stephen Hawking.

Judy Hirst awarded 2012 RSC Norman Heatley Award

I am delighted to announce that Judy Hirst has been awarded the 2012 Norman Heatley Award by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

The Norman Heatley Award is to recognise and promote the importance of inter- and multi-disciplinary research between chemistry and the life sciences through independent work.

During World War II, Norman Heatley was a member of the team of scientists at Oxford University led by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain who isolated penicillin, determined its chemical structures and demonstrated its clinical use for combatting bacterial infections.

Cambridge Science Festival 2011

Using the three-dimensional structures of the Fo and F1 domains of ATP synthase determined by Professor Sir John Walker and collaborators we constructed an accurate three-dimensional representation of the protein complex in LEGO. The model, consisting of approximately 15,000 LEGO bricks and built to a scale of 50,000,000:1, clearly shows the different functional domains of the complex. Participants were invited to build miniature LEGO models of the ATP synthase and complex I (the structure of which was solved in the laboratory of Dr. Sazanov).

John Walker receives Ahmed Zewail Gold Medal

John Walker has received the Ahmed Zewail Gold Medal from Wayne State University, Detroit, USA. Previous recipients are Roger Kornberg and John Meurig Thomas.

John Walker delivers 2010 Ernest Rutherford Lecture

John Walker delivered The Royal Society’s UK-Canada Ernest Rutherford Lecture in Ottawa at the Royal Society of Canada on 21 October 2010, as part of the 350th anniversary of The Royal Society, to mark the many important contributions from British scientists.


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