Dr. Andrea Thorn

ZOOM Meeting

February 10th, 2021

4 pm

Chair: Prof. Arwen Pearson



We are happy to announce that Dr. Andrea Thorn (Rudolf Virchow Center for Integrative and Translational Bioimaging, Universität Würzburg; Institute of Nanostructure and Solid State Physics, Universität Hamburg) will present and explain her COVID-19 research in the Coronavirus Structural Task force.


The Coronavirus Structural Taskforce

As methods developers in structural biology, we usually work far from the spotlight. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we asked ourselves how we could contribute to the fight against the virus?
As early as February, we started evaluating the structures of macromolecules in SARS-CoV and later SARS-VoV-2 available from the Protein Data Bank and found many could be improved. We set up a website (www.insidecorona.net) and a database containing our evaluation and revised models; met online every day, working on an automatic structure evaluation and revising individual structures. We also engaged in outreach activities, writing blog posts about the structural biology of SARS-CoV-2 aimed at both the scientific community and the general public, refining structures live on Twitch and offering a 3D printable virus model for schools.
In the beginning, there were no tenured academics in the Coronavirus Structural Task Force [1]; we were an ad hoc collaboration of mostly junior researchers across nine time zones, brought together by the desire to fight the pandemic. We lacked management experience, computing facilities and administrative infrastructure. Still, we were able to rapidly establish a large network of COVID-19 related research, forge friendships and collaborations across national boundaries, spread knowledge about the structural biology of the virus and provide improved models for in-silico drug discovery projects. We may have gotten into the spotlight after all.

[1] Croll, T., Diederichs, K., Fischer, F., Fyfe, C., Gao, Y., Horrell, S., Joseph, A. P., Kandler, L., Kippes, O., Kirsten, F., Müller, K., Nolte, K., Payne, A., Reeves, M. G., Richardson, J., Santoni, G., Stäb, S., Tronrud, D., Williams, C. & Thorn, A. (2020). BioRxiv. doi:10.1101/2020.10.07.307546.

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