The 2021 ACA Meeting Transactions Symposium, entitled “Function Follows Form: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Protein Data Bank,” will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Protein Data Bank. Since 1971, 3D macromolecular structure data have been expertly archived, validated, biocurated, and safeguarded by the PDB, the first open-access digital data resource in biology. The 2021 ACA Transactions Symposium is dedicated to celebrating the manifold contributions to fundamental biology, biomedicine, bioenergy, and bioengineering/biotechnology made by PDB Data Depositors and PDB Data Consumers over the past five decades. Meeting participants working in macromolecular crystallography and practitioners of cryogenic electron microscopy, tomography, and diffraction will have the opportunity to learn first-hand from internationally recognized experts contributing to our understanding of the intrinsic relationship between 3D structure and function across the biological and biomedical sciences. Invited presentations by ten high profile experimental and computational structural biologists working in the United States, Canada, and South America will be augmented by two short talks selected from abstracts. At the close of the symposium, speakers will be invited to contribute to a short round table discussion regarding future directions in structural biology and the important role that the RCSB Protein Data Bank can play over the next 50 years.

Program for PDB 50th Anniversary ACA Transactions Symposium 2021: Function Follows Form: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Protein Data Bank

Friday July 30th (12:00 PM EDT - 3:30 PM EDT) and Saturday July 31st 2021 (11:00 AM EDT - 3:30 PM EDT)

Organizing Committee: Stephen K. Burley, David Rose, Natalie Strynadka, Rui Zhao

Session Chairs: 
Friday July 30th Noon-1pm EDT Keynote/Plenary Burley
Friday July 30th 1:20pm-3:30pm EDT Plenary/Speaker Panel Strynadka
Saturday July 31st 11am-Noon EDT Nobel Lecture Rose
Saturday July 31st Noon-1:00pm Keynote/Plenary Zhao
Saturday July 31st 1:20pm-3:30pm EDT Plenary/Speaker Panel Burley
Please note that all times are in EDT and that this schedule is tentative and subject to change. Changes, if necessary, will be updated on this page.
Sponsored by:


Friday July 30th Schedule:

12:00pm-12:05pm Welcome and Introductions

12:05pm-12:45pm Keynote: Cynthia Wolberger - Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD

Cynthia Wolberger is a Professor of Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where her group studies the structural basis of transcription regulation and ubiquitin signaling using cryo-EM and x-ray crystallography. She received an A.B. in Physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Biophysics from Harvard University, and did postdoctoral research at UCSF and at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In both her graduate and postdoctoral studies, she studied the structural basis of transcription factor binding to DNA. Since establishing her own research group at Johns Hopkins, she has made major contributions to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying combinatorial regulation of transcription, post-translational modification of histone proteins, and ubiquitin signaling. A current focus or her research is on the interplay between histone ubiquitination and regulation of transcription. Dr. Wolberger is a recipient of the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award of the Protein Society and is a Fellow of the Biophysical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Wolberger has been a member of the ACA since 1992.

12:45pm-1:00pm Abstract Talk: TBD

1:00pm-1:20pm Coffee Break

1:20pm-1:45pm Plenary: John Rubinstein - Sick Kid’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada

1:45pm-2:10pm Plenary: Squire J. Booker - Penn State, State College, PA

2:10pm-2:35pm Plenary: Rafael M. Couñago- SGC/UNICAMP, Brazil

Rafael M. Couñago leads a research group at the Medicinal Chemistry Center at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) in São Paulo, Brazil and uses structural biology tools to understand protein function and to develop small-molecule modulators of proteins involved in human diseases. Rafael obtained his PhD from Rice University (TX-US) under the supervision of Yousif Shamoo, and did post-doctoral training with Kurt Krause at the University of Otago (NZ) and with Bostjan Kobe at the University of Queensland (AUS). In 2015, he joined the Structural Genomics Consortium site at UNICAMP, serving as its CSO from 2018 to 2020.

2:35pm-3:00pm Plenary: Erica Ollman Saphire - La Jolla Institute for Immunology, La Jolla, CA

3:00pm-3:25pm Speaker Panel Discussion: Leaning In -- PDB in the Next 50 Years

3:25pm-3:30pm Concluding Remarks and Acknowledgements


Saturday July 31st Schedule:

11:00am-11:05am Welcome and Introduction

11:05am-11:55am Nobel Lecture: Frances H. Arnold - CalTech, Pasadena, CA

11:55am-12:00pm Concluding Remarks and Acknowledgements

12:00pm-12:05pm Welcome and Introductions

12:05pm-12:45pm Keynote: Wayne A. Hendrickson - Columbia, New York, NY

12:45pm-1:00pm Abstract Talk: TBD

1:00pm-1:20pm Coffee Break

1:20pm-1:45pm Plenary: Chris Sander - Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

1:45pm-2:10pm Plenary: Eva Nogales - UC Berkeley/HHMI, Berkeley, CA

Eva Nogales obtained her BS in Physics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. During her graduate work at the SRS in the UK, she used SAXS and cryo-EM to investigate tubulin assembly. Her postdoctoral work with Ken Downing at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab produced the first atomic structure of tubulin using electron crystallography. She joined the Molecular and Cell Biology faculty at UC Berkeley in 1998. Since 2000 she is an HHMI Investigator. Presently she is a Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology in the MCB department at UC Berkeley and a Senior Faculty Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab.

The Nogales lab is dedicated to gaining mechanistic insight into the control of gene expression and the microtubule cytoskeleton. Her lab uses cryo-EM for the direct visualization of macromolecular architecture, functional states, and regulatory interactions. Eva Nogales has received the Dorothy Hodgkin Award from the Protein Society, the Mildred Cohn Award from ASBMB, the Porter Lecture Award from ASCB, and the Biophysical Society Lectureship. She is a fellow of ASCB and the Biophysical Society, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Foreign Associate of EMBO.

2:35pm-3:00pm Plenary: Andrej Sali - RCSB PDB/UCSF, San Francisco, CA

Andrej Sali received his BSc degree in chemistry from the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, in 1987, under the supervision of Professor Vito Turk; and his PhD from Birkbeck College, University of London, UK, in 1991, developing the MODELLER program for comparative modeling of protein structures under the supervision of Professor Tom L. Blundell. He was then a postdoc with Professor Martin Karplus at Harvard University as a Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund fellow, studying lattice Monte Carlo models of protein folding. From 1995 to 2002, he was first an Assistant Professor and then an Associate Professor at The Rockefeller University. In 2003, he moved to University of California, San Francisco, as a Professor of Computational Biology in the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences. He was recognized as Sinsheimer Scholar (1996), an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (1998), an Irma T. Hirschl Trust Career Scientist (2000), the Zois Award of Science Ambassador of Republic of Slovenia (2007), a Fellow of International Society for Computational Biology (2014), Jubilee Professor of Indian Academy of Sciences (2017), Bijvoet Medal recipient (2018), and member of National Academy of Sciences of USA (2018). He has been an Editor of Structure since 2002. Dr. Sali develops and applies computational methods for determining and modulating structures and functions of proteins and their assemblies.

3:00pm-3:25pm Speaker Panel Discussion: Leaning In – PDB in the Next 50 Years

3:25pm-3:30pm Concluding Remarks and Acknowledgements