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September 2018 Multiple papers for Micha

Congratulations to Michael Agthe, part of the T-REXX beamline development team, who as well as working hard on the design and building of the beamline has also found time to publish 3 papers this year describing work he did with his previous group. The first came out in January in ACS Macro Letters, „Nanoscale Assembly of Cellulose Nanocrystals during Drying and Redispersion,“ this was followed by a paper in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science in July, „Time-resolved viscoelastic properties of self-assembling iron oxide nanocube superlattices probed by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring,“. Now, hot off the press in Nanoscale, comes a super cool study „Assembly of cellulose nanocrystals in a levitating drop probed by time-resolved small angle X-ray scattering.“ Happy reading!

September 2018 Paper for Yunyun, Stephan and lab alumna Diana

Congratulations to lab alumna Diana Monteiro for her first paper as corresponding author. Working with Yunyun and Stephan from the Pearson group, as well as with Kesha Josts and Henning Tidow from CUI and Matteo Levantino from the ESRF/University of Palermo they report a photocage-initiated time-resolved solution X-ray scattering investigation of protein dimerization in IUCrJ.

September 2018 Paper for Marta

Congratulations to Marta Sans, the leader of our synthetic chemistry lab, for a new paper in Langmuir describing work she did with her previous group, „Cyclobutane Scaffold in Bolaamphiphiles: Effect of Diastereoisomerism and Regiochemistry on Their Surface Activity Aggregate Structure„.

September 2018 Paper for Marta

Congratulations to Marta Sans, the leader of our synthetic chemistry lab, for a new paper in Langmuir describing work she did with her previous group, „Cyclobutane Scaffold in Bolaamphiphiles: Effect of Diastereoisomerism and Regiochemistry on Their Surface Activity Aggregate Structure„.

August 2018 New paper!

Congratulations to lab alumna Thembi Gaule for her new paper in Biochemistry „Oxygen activation switch in the copper amine oxidase of Escherichia coli.„. This is part of our ongoing project to understand how the interplay between structure and dynamics modulates the chemical reactions catalysed by enzymes.

July 2018 Our new endstation T-REXX is taking shape

Our new endstation at PETRA III, developed in collaboration with EMBL, is taking shape! It has also acquired a name – T-REXX (Time-resolved X-ray Crystallography), because who doesn’t like the thought of dinosaurs with lasers shooting out of their eyes…!

The experimental table arrived at the end of July and it already has stuff on it. In the picture you can see the beampipe, as well as the beginnings of the laser installation. We’re now just waiting on the diffractometer and detector and we’ll be in business!

May 2018 Welcome Owen Tuck

Owen has joined us as a DAAD RISE fellow from Bowdoin College in Maine. He will work with Joe for 2 months on the synthesis and characterisation of photocages.

April 2018 Welcome Henry Gieseler

Henry is a graduate of Universität Hamburg’s Nanoscience programme. He did his Master project with us working on radiation damage to proteins during X-ray exposure and found some really cool things! We’ve persuaded him to stay on for a PhD and are really pleased he’s joined us.



March 2018 New paper!

Congratulations to Chris Orr for his paper in Cancer Cell „Complex Interplay between Epitope Specificity and Isotype Dictates the Biological Activity of Anti-human CD40 Antibodies„.

January 2018 – Winner of the 2017 „Pearson Lab Angel Award“ announced

Good lab citizenship is something to be encouraged! In recognition of all the hard work group members put into all the little tasks like tip-box filling, doing the autoclaving, cleaning the lab benches etc. we have inaugurated the Annual Lab Angel Award. This year it was won by Brandon, when careful analysis of the lab duties sign-up list revealed he had gone above and beyond for his lab mates. Well done Brandon!

January 2018 Welcome Claudia Stohrer

Claudia is a member of the RAMP EU Innovative Training Network, based at the University of Leeds with Prof. Adrian Goldman. She is spending 3 months with us for her first secondment, as part of the RAMP training programme. Claudia is molecular biologist from Switzerland, and is working on solving the structure of the GPCR A2A in complex with calmodulin. During her secondment Claudia is learning crystallization and we hope to be able to try some time-resolved experiments by the end of her PhD.


January 2018 Welcome Josephine Nietzschmann

Josephine is a work experience student from the Goethe Gymnasium in Germersheim. She is spending two weeks with us learning some crystallization, molecular biology, a little bit of physics and getting (hopefully) useful insight into life as a scientist!




December 2017 HARBOR Ground Breaking

What a fabulous Christmas present! On the 22nd December we broke ground for our new research building HARBOR „Hamburg Advanced Research Building for Bioorganic Chemistry“. Arwen got to wield a spade (although sadly not drive the digger), accompanied by (left to right) the University Kanzeler Herr Hecht, Hamburg’s scientific senator Katharina Fegebank, and Martin Görge, the CEO of Sprinkenhof GmbH who are building HARBOR. Thanks to all who braved the cold weather, and made it a very festive occasion.

October 2017 Welcome Diogo Melo

Diogo joins the lab as part of the RAMP EU Innovative Training Network to work on developing methods for reproducible crystallization of membrane protein microcrystals for structure determination by serial synchrotron crystallography (SSX) and serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX). Diogo did his Master at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in X-ray crystallography of molybdenum containing enzymes. Diogo is already blogging as part of the RAMP outreach programme so you can read more about him here.



August 2017

Congratulations to Zoe and Diana for their recent paper in Biochemistry in a collaboration led by Mike Webb at the University of Leeds describing how an antibiotic candidate compound shelved in the 1970s in favour of more worthwhile drugs could be worth a second look. The drug, called pentyl pantothenamide, is able to stop the growth of E. coli but not completely kill the bacteria, so was never taken into clinical use. The wider class of pantothenamides have broad spectrum activity against many bacteria but only this one particular molecule is much more effective against E. coli. Exactly what it was doing remained a mystery, but now we have found the answer. It targets the PanDZ complex that E. coli requires in order to make coenzyme A. You can read the press release from Leeds here, and the paper itself here.

August 2017 1st paper from the synthetic lab

As part of an ongoing collaboration with the Henderson group at the University of Leeds we’ve just published a paper in Analytical Chemistry describing conformational changes in the membrane transporter Mhp1 when different ligands are bound. Marta and Maria made the ligands in the synthetic lab Marta has established here in the Centre for Free Electron Laser Science.

July 2017 Congrats to Lab Alumni Tosh and Ivan

Arwen’s first two PhD students have both just got independent positions! Toshana Foster will take up a Research Fellowship at the University of Nottingham in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and Ivan Campeotto will take up a Research Fellowship at the University of Leicester in the Leicester Institute of Structural and Chemical Biology.

April 2017 Welcome Sam Horrell and Michael Agthe

Sam and Micha have joined the lab to work on the development of our new beamline at PETRA III in collaboration with EMBL. Sam is a biochemist who did his PhD work at the University of Liverpool and Diamond Light source. He then spent his first postdoc working with Mike Hough at the University of Essex on the MSOX method for structural enzymology. Micha has a PhD in Materials Chemistry from Stockholm University and has a background in developing cool instrumentation to follow nanoparticle assembly in real time.

April 2017 Welcome Caitlin Hatton

Caitlin is a BBSRC funded student from the University of Warwick. She is visiting for three months (April to June) to learn about life at a synchrotron and about time-resolved crystallography along with helping to manage the lab. She is also responsible for helping get the website back up to date!






March 2017 – First CUI B2.2 Away Day

B2.2 is a subproject in the Centre for Ultrafast Imaging focussed on developing new tools for reaction intiation in time-resolved experiments. It is a collaboration between us, Henning Tidow, Nils Huse and Martin Trebbin – all CUI members. We all joined CUI about the same time and have been working closely together for a while now as our groups have grown and settled into Hamburg. We thought it was time to all get together to look at what we’ve achieved and plan where we want to go in the next year. So off we went to Bergedorf (far away on the other side of Hamburg!) to the Astronomy campus where we had a great day of science in their fabulous wood panelled library before taking a tour around all the telescopes.

December 2016 Paper for Marta

Congratulations to Marta Sans, the leader of our synthetic chemistry lab, for a new paper in Chemistry, describing work she did during her PhD: „Studies on Cycloalkane‐Based Bisamide Organogelators: A New Example of Stochastic Chiral Symmetry‐Breaking Induced by Sonication.“

November 2016 RAMP approved

Our application for a new European International Training Network on „Rational Approaches to Crystallizing Membrane Proteins (RAMP)“ has been approved. The Network is led by Monika Spano in Grenoble and will support 12 PhD students working on everything from mapping phase diagrams to solving membrane protein structures and even building cool controlled crystallization devices. You can read more about RAMP here.

July 2016 – New funding for time-resolved crystallography in Hamburg

Our collaborative bid to the BMBF has been successful and has resulted in an award of 2M€ to build a new endstation at the EMBL beamline P14 and upgrade the DESY beamline P11 at the PETRA III synchrotron. You can read more about it here and about our bit of the project here. Team members for this proposal were Arwen, Thomas Schneider (EMBL), Nils Huse, Martin Trebbin, Henry Chapman and Christian Betzel.

Feb 2016 HARBOR approved!!

One of the major challenges in carrying out a time-resolved experiment is getting the reaction started in the first place! To address this a team from CUI bid for €33 million for a new research building to house a research programme aimed at exactly this question. The federal and state Joint Science Conference (GWK) has now incorporated the „Hamburg Advanced Research Centre for Bioorganic Chemistry“ (HARBOR) into the 2017 funding phase. The building will host 130 staff including 118 scientists spread over four departments (spectroscopy/imaging, structural molecular biology, synthetic chemistry, and theory). The HARBOR team members are Arwen, Gabriel Bester, Nils Huse, Chris Meier, Alf Mews, Julia Rehbein, Henning Tidow and Horst Weller.

Jan 2016 Diana Monteiro awarded a postdoctoral fellowship

Diana has successfully competed for one of CUI’s Louise Johnson postdoctoral fellowships and will move to Hamburg this autumn to work with Martin Trebbin and Henning Tidow on microfluidic devices for time-resolved X-ray scattering experiments as well as continuing her work on developing new chemical tools for reaction triggering. Well done Diana!

Pearson Lab on the Telly!

Our local TV station, Hamburg 1, did a spot on the two Excellence Clusters at Hamburg and visited the lab as part of the section on the Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging. Marta and our new mass spec have a starring role, and you can also admire some lovely crystals! The structural biology section starts at around the 5 minute mark.

May 2015 Welcome Sinem Balci

sinem_photoSinem is a student from Yonca Yüzügüllü’s group at the University of Kocaeli in Turkey. She is visiting us for three months (May-July 2015) on a short-term scientific mission funded by the EU COST Action „Movement and Mechanism in Molecular Machines“ to learn some protein crystallography and determine structures of a dual activity catalase-phenol oxidase from Scytalidium.



Dec 2015 Congratulations Dr Yorke!

Briony was formally awarded her PhD, with an award for Research Excellence, at the December 2015 University of Leeds Graduation Ceremony, so of course we all had to get dressed up.

Briony's Graduation

Left to right: Dr Mike Webb, Arwen, Briony & Prof. Godfrey Beddard

Dec 2014 1st annual Pearson group meeting

The 1st annual Pearson group meeting was held in Hamburg at CFEL on the 6th December 2014. The Hamburg group were joined by the Leeds gang, as well as Michelle Hamilton from the Dynamic Structural Science Consortium at Harwell. We spent the day talking science and introducing the new students to the old hands. Then in the evening it was off to enjoy the Hamburg Christmas Markets followed by a tasty dinner at a restaurant in the Portuguese quarter.


Group T-shirts! Group photo in CFEL showing off our lovely CUI T-shirts


Enjoying the Christmas Market spirit on Jungfernsteig


Tasty dinner at Restaurant Porto