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Published: 2017-12-05

Press invite: Chemistry laureate to Umeå University on 13 December

NEWS Professor Jacques Dubochet, one of this year’s three Nobel laureates in Chemistry, is visiting Umeå University on Wednesday 13 December to hold a lecture on his revolutionising research. Together with Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson, he has developed an efficient method to produce three-dimensional images of the molecules of life through cryo-electron microscopy. The method has brought molecular biology into a whole new era.

Chemistry laureate Jacques Dubochet. Photo: Félix Imhof – UNIL 2017

At 14:00 on 13 December, Jacques Dubochet is holding a lecture in Aula Nordica open to all. The title is “The science that gave me a Nobel prize and the science that didn’t” and it will be held in English.

Images of molecular complexes that control the circadian rhythm – the bodily clock, light-capturing reaction complexes from photosynthesis and the injection needle of the salmonella bacterium in attacking cells are some examples. With the help of cryo-electron microscopy, researchers can now freeze biomolecules in the middle of their transient states and reproduce them in three-dimensional atom solutions. Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson are the three researchers behind the technology and who have been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Jacques Dubochet was the one who introduced water into the electron microscope. One of the fundamental problems in electron microscopy is that biological samples dry out and are destroyed when exposed to vacuum. Jacques Dubochet found a solution by cooling the water in liquid ethane so rapidly that it solidifies in its liquid form and hence take a solid form that resembles glass, instead of ice crystals. This is called vitrification.

Through Jacques Dubochet’s vitrification method, biomolecules can be rapidly frozen and imaged in their natural soluble state. This increases the resolution and makes it possible to see into cells and biochemical processes “for real” through an electron microscope. You can study how the proteins are built up, how they interact and react biochemically.

The background to Jacques Dubochet’s visits to Umeå University is that the University is home to one of Sweden’s two centres for cryo-electron microscopy at Umeå Core Facility for Electron Microscopy, UCEM. The director of the centre, Linda Sandblad, has met Jacques Dubochet on conferences and will act as host during his visit.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming him here. Jacques Dubochet is a highly competent and enthusiastic scientist. In a magical way, he has the gift to inspire new research, so his lecture is likely to be very interesting,” says Linda Sandblad.

The lecture is open to all employees, students and the general public.
Please note! Show up on time to ensure a place as seats are limited. 

About Jacques Dubochet:

Jacques Dubochet was born in 1942 in Aigle, Switzerland. He completed his thesis in biophysics at the University of Geneva and the University of Basel in Switzerland. He is honorary doctor in biophysics at the University of Lausanne, in Switzerland, where he is currently active.

About the lecture:

14:00–15:00 Jacques Dubochet holds a lecture in Aula Nordica: “The science that gave me a Nobel prize and the science that didn’t”
The lecture is held in English. It is free of charge.

Read more about UCEM

Read more about this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Photographs for download. Please give credit to the photographer: Félix Imhof – UNIL 2017

For more information, please contact:

Linda Sandblad, researcher at the Department of Molecular Biology and director of Umeå Core facility for Electron Microscopy, UCEM, Umeå UniversityPhone: +46 70-932 49 36
Email: linda.sandblad@umu.s

Eva-Maria Diehl, communications officer, the Chemical Biological Centre, KBC, Umeå UniversityPhone: +46 73-088 57 31

Editor: Ingrid Söderbergh