Second ECA Max Perutz Prize to Professor Eleanor J. Dodson

dodson-prizeThe European Crystallographic Association has awarded the second Max Perutz Prize to
Prof. Eleanor J. Dodson
for developing, implementing, teaching and applying the best tools available to produce macromolecular structures of highest quality.

Eleanor Dodson is an unusual scientist who has made unusual and remarkable contributions. Since the early years of working on insulin together with Prof. Dorothy Hodgkin, she has been at the center of the mathematical side of macromolecular crystallography and has been developing, implementing, teaching and applying the best tools available to produce science of highest quality.

Protein crystallography is a science that requires skills from many disciplines. The areas range from cell biology over DNA technology and the means to express exotic proteins in large quantities to statistical and mathematical methods to achieve optimal diffraction measurements and phase angle determinations with different methods and to validate the determined structures. Eleanor Dodson has throughout her career been engaged in the methodology in macromolecular crystallography, developing, implementing and applying mathematical and statistical methods for data collection and phasing (molecular replacement), refinement (maximum likelihood refinement of protein structure), and structure validation. This is only partly evident from her publication record. However, she has an extensive list of publications (close to 60 publications in the period 1995-2004), many of them in highly prestigious journals with outstanding number of citations (one method-paper received ~2100) showing the high impact and practical importance of her research.

Eleanor Dodson is also recognised as the leading scientist in the creation and development of the CCP4 program suite (Collaborative Computational Project No. 4 of the UK Research Councils) for Macromolecular Crystallography, which is now widely used by the community throughout the world and has had a huge global impact in crystallographic science. CCP4 is constantly updated and improved and is freely and easily available to the community. She also regularly tends to queries placed on the CCP4 bulletin board by students and postdocs needing help and she has also been a frequent and exellent teacher at a large number of crystallographic schools. Thus, she had a tremendous impact on all young scientists that had the priviledge of learning from her teaching, her experience and from her always open heart and friendly attitude. She has also taken on the responsibilities of being a coeditor of J Appl Cryst.

Eleanor Dodson has all the time stayed close to the biological problems. She has been involved in numerous new protein structures. A major highlight, where she had the pivotal role, was the 11-fold NCS symmetry found in the “TRAP” protein. TRAP is an RNA-binding attenuation protein. The 11-fold NCS crystallography result clarified a spread of published estimates for the number of subunits from molecular biology and biochemistry. The self rotation function and its interpretation is a masterly piece of work where Dodsonfs strengths in molecular replacement are profoundly on show.

Eleanor Dodson is an outstanding scientist who sustained very strong contributions for many years and has contributed new methods, software and structures for many years. Eleanor Dodson is highly qualified to receive the 2006 ECA Max Perutz Prize.

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