Instruct ULTRA

The quality control training school: a joint Instruct-ULTRA and ARBRE-MOBIEU course


In October 2019, eleven early-career scientists from institutes across Europe gathered at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, to gain hands-on training in quality control for structural studies.

Quality control is a critical practice for ensuring the integrity, reliability, and reproducibility of structural biology data. In particular, quality control provides important, reportable checkpoints that can be used to independently assess the conclusions drawn from structural biology data.

The week-long training school, which was jointly funded by Instruct-ULTRA and ARBRE-MOBIEU, included a combination of theoretical and practical sessions to provide trainees with the skill to analyse and optimise samples at their home institutions. Various biochemical and biophysical techniques were covered, including chromatography, dynamic and static light scattering, viscometry, circular dichroism, mass spectrometry, and differential scanning fluorimetry. Importantly, the course was also an opportunity for the students and tutors to exchange ideas on sample purification, molecular biophysics and structural characterisation.

Trainees listen to a presentation on quality control at the Institut Pasteur, Paris.

The morning sessions featured presentations by invited speakers from GE Healthcare, EMBL, Max-Planck-Institute, Synchrotron SOLEIL, University of Bayreuth, University Paris Saclay, and Institut Pasteur. In the afternoon, practical sessions covered basic quality control of proteins, as well as buffer and storage optimisation. Through these sessions, the trainees were able to put their new knowledge into practice by designing purification and characterisation strategies for use in their own projects.

In their feedback, the trainees noted that the course provided an insight into the complementary nature of the different structural biology techniques and the importance of protein quality control. One trainee commented: “the course gives a good take home-message about the sample quality control. Very often this step is skipped without reason. After this experience I will improve this part of my project.”

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