Past Events


Our webinar “Achievements of GCRF START” was chaired by one of our grant Co-Investigators, Professor Sir Richard Catlow, the Foreign Secretary at The Royal Society and an eminent scientist.
This grant has ensured that over 80 researchers have collaborated across continents and resulted in over 50 publications linked to the UN sustainable development goals.
During the meeting we shared some of our achievements, early career impacts and the importance of Diamond’s collaboration.

Detailed agenda

11:00 – 11:10Welcome by Professor Sir Richard Catlow – GCRF START Co-Investigator, Professor at Cardiff University, University College London and Foreign Secretary at The Royal Society
Energy Materials Achievements 
11:10 – 11:30Success of START from South Africa by Professor Michael Claeys – GCRF START Co-Investigator and Professor at University of Cape Town
11:30 – 11:40Early Careers by Dr Mohamed Fadlalla – GCRF START Post Doctoral Research Associate and Lecturer and Research Officer at University of Cape Town
11:40 – 11:50 Importance of Diamonds’ collaboration by Dr Sofia Diaz-Moreno – GCRF START Co-Investigator and Science Group Leader – Spectroscopy Group at Diamond Light Source
Structural Biology Achievements 
11:50 – 12:10Success of START from South Africa by Professor Erick Strauss – GCRF START Co-Investigator and Professor at Stellenbosch University
12:10 – 12:20 Early Careers by Dr Carmien Tolmie – GCRF START Post Doctoral Research Associate and Lecturer at University of the Free State
12:20 – 12:30 Importance of Diamonds’ collaboration by Dr Gwyndaf Evans – GCRF START Co-Investigator and Deputy Director – Life Sciences at Diamond Light Source
12:30 – 12:40Break
12:40 – 12:55Overview from the funders by Dr Jason Green – Associate Director, External Innovations, Science and Technology Facilities Council
12:55 – 13:15Overview by Professor Chris Nicklin – GCRF START Principal Investigator and Science Group Leader – Structures and Surfaces Group at Diamond Light Source
13:15 – 13:30Closing remarks with Q&A by Professor Sir Richard Catlow

A recording of the event will be available in due course.


South African Biophysics Workshop 2021

The South African Biophysics Workshop took place on 22nd February to 5th March 2021. For more information please visit the website – Biophysics Workshop.


START Bioscience Check-in Theme -” How did lockdown affect my experience as a START contributor – what I managed to accomplish”

Virtual (Zoom) meeting organised from (Johannesburg, South Africa) on 15th October 2020.

Meeting organised to discuss science still being accomplished even with Lockdown:

  • Jeremy Woodward UCT – Shotgun EM of mycobacterial protein complexes
  • Dirk Opperman and Carmien Tolmie, UFS – Structural Biology in Middle Earth
  • Anton Hamman, US – Using chemical stress to boost the yield of a soluble recombinant protein, SaDPCK, and updates on the crystal structures of SaPanK
  • Thandeka Moyo, NICD – HIV and SARS-CoV-2 infection: understanding antibodies for prevention
  • Lizelle Lubbe, UCT – Unlocking an ACE structure under lockdown
  • Wolf-Dieter Schubert, UP – Pandemic protein progress in Pretoria
  • Ramesh Pandian and Ikechukwu Achilonu, Wits – Success stories with Schistosoma japonicum GST and HIV protease


GCRF START Early Career Scientists Meeting – 2nd Session – explaining how a synchrotron works

Virtual (Zoom) meeting held on 1st July 2020.

Lorraine Bobb, Head of the Beam Diagnostics Group at Diamond will share her knowledge about how the accelerator at Diamond works, to produce the bright beams of x-rays that we all rely on. We will then show you how to do a virtual tour of Diamond, allowing you to explore the facility wherever you are in the world.


GCRF START Early Career Scientists Meeting – 1st Session (Introduction)

Virtual (Zoom) meeting held on 4th June 2020.

An opportunity for Early Career Scientists to meet and introduce themselves to one another and discuss their research, share knowledge and experiences.


GCRF START Energy Material Meeting 

GCRF START held this meeting at the University of Cape Town, (South Africa) on the 16th – 17th December 2019.

The meeting took the opportunity to review of current project successes through a series of presentations given by the UK and South African Energy Materials investigators and PDRA’s. Discussions took place regarding future activities, and planning, with a focus of what the team wants to achieve from the project, and how we intend to implement and deliver. Discussions around beamtime access/ applications and processes also covering areas where we can provide support as a collaborative unit.    

“Touring the catalysis labs at Cape Town University was fascinating – I was very impressed with the very strong industrial links that supports much of the work and the technical innovation displayed at addressing the scientific challenges being investigated.”

DANIEL BOWRON, INVITED SPEAKER, UKRI SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FACILITIES COUNCIL (UNITED KINGDOM)
GCRF START Energy Materials workshop at the University of Cape Town, South Africa 16th -17th December 2019.
Credit Rebekka Stredwick. © Diamond Light Source

Erick Strass Presentation

Entitled Enzymology in action: Picking apart a new weapon in the epic immune battle between neutrophils and Staphylococcus aureus at Diamond Light Source Ltd (Harwell, United Kingdom) on 12th  November 2019

A great opportunity to hear about both the great science, and some of the experience we have had building a large, international collaboration. Also an opportunity to update colleagues and collaborators about Life Science in the GCRF-START grant 18 months into the project, discussing project progress and future plans.


MX User Training in Pretoria

Collaborative training event with Diamond Light Source and GCRF START at University of Pretoria (Pretoria, South Africa) on 11th July 2019.

Organisers: Dave Hall, Carmien Tolmie, Wolf-Dieter Schubert

X-ray crystallography data collection training workshop for members of the South African crystallography BAG (Diamond Block Allocation Grant) presented by beamline scientists from Diamond. Attended by START PDRAs and other members of START labs, including academic staff, postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows. 


‘Introduction to Cryo-EM’ Biophysics and Structural Biology at Synchrotrons Workshop 

GCRF START held the workshop at the University of Cape Town, (South Africa) on the 15th – 18th January 2019.

The workshop was presented by researchers from the UK and South Africa with international attendees. The scope of the workshop included protein sample preparation, crystallization, data collection, data processing and interpretation. Apart for X-ray crystallography, included other structural techniques, such as cryo-electron microscopy, X-ray microscopy and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Several case studies were presented and gave students an understanding of how science happened in the “real world” and there was ample opportunity to share experiences of the development of science at and around synchrotrons from the perspective of users from countries having widely varying economies. 

“My highlight was the ‘Introduction to Cryo-EM’ Biophysics & Structural Biology at Synchrotron’s Workshop in January 2019. This workshop was a blast of new information and a fantastic introduction to the field of structural biology.

Phillip Venter, PhD Student at University of Cape Town (South Africa)


The GCRF – START Launch event

START held its launch event at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford (United Kingdom) on the 27th – 28th March 2019.

The event included invited guests from the START participating organisations and other interested researchers coming together to share their research achieved now the project has run for about a year. Sessions included presentations on the opportunities provided by synchrotron technology in support of the research disciplines START supports and enabled very stimulating discussions on current and future directions.

Seeing the Diamond facility and meeting the staff myself was empowering and truly impressive.”

Alberdina Aike van Dijk, Professor / Principal Investigator and GCRF START Co-Investigator, North West University (South Africa)

Programme agenda – for the GCRF START launch event is available here:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is GCRF-START-Launch-All-delegates-2.jpg
GCRF START Launch: All delegates © Diamond Light Source.
GCRF START conference at St Catherines College, Oxford.
Professor Bryan Sewell: Condition of Structural Biology in South Africa.
Photograph By: Sean Dillow. http://www.TheBigCheesePhotography.co.uk
© Diamond Light Source.

The GCRF START Kick-off Meeting – Structural Biology and Material Science

START held its kick-off meeting at the University of Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa) on the 18th – 19th September 2018.

The event covered the strategic discussions on the layout of GCRF START, and on navigating the funding, future collaborations, education and project outreach.  While researchers from both Structural Biology and Material Science use synchrotron techniques, the two fields mainly operate in isolation. This meeting provided an interface for researchers from various institutions and from both disciplines, not only to learn about each other’s work, but also to get to know the researchers in person.  A series of presentations were delivered showing diversity with synchrotron techniques used. The event provided a platform for all to liaise and utilise the opportunity to discuss future data collections at Diamond Light Sources’ Synchrotron. 

The launch event marks the formal beginning of the START project, where both the African and UK investigators are excited to learn about each other’s research and the possibility of working together to make use of synchrotron techniques in the field of structural biology and energy materials. I, personally, cannot wait to see the first results come out of the collaborations that we are enabling.”

Professor Chris Nicklin, (START Principal Investigator, Diamond Light Source Ltd (UK))