Our science activities are a great opportunity for students studying all science subjects to deepen their understanding of key concepts and experience study at university level.
Join us to hear Professor Elspeth F Garman from the Department of Biochemistry, Oxford University, describe how X-ray crystallography is used to determine molecular structures, helping us to understand disease and develop drugs to control it. This talk will provide great insight for Year 10 and 12 students studying science subjects.
Book early and your group can also enjoy a tour of our engineering facilities – ideal for students with an interest in aerospace, astronautics, mechanical, automotive and motorsport engineering.
Parking is available on site.
The Braggs, father and son, were pioneers of a new area of science when, 101 years ago this year, they discovered the three-dimensional arrangement of atoms in table salt (sodium chloride). They did this by irradiating salt crystals with a beam of X-rays and interpreting the pattern of X-ray scattering they detected.
Their legacy lives on, as the crystallographic methods they were pivotal in developing are still used today to determine the atomic and molecular structure of crystals – and they are at the forefront of modern drug discovery platforms.
By measuring the angles and intensities of the diffracted X-ray beams, a crystallographer can produce a three-dimensional picture of the density of electrons within a crystal. From the electron density, the position of the atoms can be determined along with their chemical bonds, their disorder and various other information.
This process enables us to determine the three-dimensional shapes of important biological molecules – and therefore provides a molecular understanding of diseases, viruses and bacteria. From this we are able to plot disease pathways – and develop ways to block their action with small molecule drugs such as Relenza.
Professor Elspeth Garman is professor of molecular biophysics at the University of Oxford.
She initially studied physics at Durham University before her doctorate in nuclear physics at Oxford. She has served as the president of the British Crystallographic Association and is a leading figure internationally. She has published more than a hundred original research articles on crystallography.
She has delivered many prestigious public lectures including the Dorothy Hodgkin Lecture in 2010, and is involved with various outreach activities (find out more on the Oxford Sparks website or watch a video on crystallography on YouTube.
Keep up to date with our activities and events by signing up to our newsletter.