Instruct, a European infrastructure consortium for structural biology that was initiated through a European Framework 7 funded project and hosted in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine, was given European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) status earlier this week. As the second UK-hosted ERIC, Instruct will provide the European structural biology community with continued access to high-quality, stable and sustainable services.
Instruct gives researchers vital access to advanced instrumentation and training in structural biology. The equipment is typically very expensive and requires specific technical experience. Technology and infrastructure are at the heart of the revolution to connect atomic resolution of molecular structures with functionality at the cellular level, and technical advances are constantly pushing the science forward.
At a Royal Society awards ceremony celebrating the formal adoption of Instruct-ERIC by the European Commission, the UK Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson recognised the value and relevance of collaborative work between the UK and European scientists.
Minister Jo Johnson was able to announce at the event new multi-million pound funding for further cryo-EM facilities in the UK, some of which will be available through the Instruct Centre UK located in Oxford and at the Harwell Research Campus. This investment, combined with the new status of Instruct-ERIC, will enable the best and brightest European minds to share knowledge and state-of-the-art equipment, to advance discovery science and improve human health.
Professor David Stuart, Director of Instruct-ERIC and MRC Professor at the University of Oxford, said: “Continued stability for partnerships across Europe is invaluable at this critical and exciting time for structural biology. International collaboration has always been important for structural biology as we need the collective knowledge and skills of chemists, physicists, computer scientists and biologists to develop the technology, before we can advance the science. Today’s announcements represent a welcome commitment to strengthening infrastructure, research collaborations and enabling the brightest minds to work together across borders.”
Dr Nathan Richardson, MRC Head of Molecular and Cellular Medicine and Chair of Instruct-ERIC Council, said: “We’re delighted to be able to provide extra support, complementary to other investments, enabling access for even more researchers to cutting-edge technology at a crucial time, allowing them to tackle the biological questions that will help advance human health.”