Recent years have seen a rapid development in interdisciplinary techniques to study the structure and function of protein nanoshells. In particular, the application of physical principles to study fundamentals and applications of protein nanoshells has expanded the scope of such studies tremendously. Recent work includes extensive theory and simulation and a host of new experiments with a variety of state-of-the-art techniques. Here the biophysics of nanoshells is connected to classical virology and to materials science. Typical examples of protein nanoshells are viruses, but recently increasing numbers of non-viral protein nanoshells have been discovered in nature. Furthermore, such particles are now also being engineered from scratch. In order to bring together researchers from these different fields, we organised a workshop that explicitly encompasses all protein nanoshells. This turned out to be a big success, given the feed-back the organizers received from the participants during and after the workshop.
Key elements of the feed-back were: (i) Participants learned a lot about new research fields; (ii) many new collaborations have started; (iii) the format of the workshop with extended time for discussion was very stimulating; (iv) the number of participants (60) was perfect to guarantee enough diversity in topics, yet it was small enough in order for everybody to regularly meet each other and exchange ideas; (v) the support of the LC with a good coffee room, pleasant offices with a desk for everybody and a good place for poster discussions was really fantastic and helped a lot in facilitating effective contacts between participants; (vi) the flash poster presentation on the first day, where all poster presenters had 1 minute to present their posters, was well organised and a great success. The organisers fully agree with these points. Furthermore we really enjoyed seeing how successfully the junior researchers integrated into the scientific community of this research area. We think that one of the determinants of success was that we had opted for short presentations (15 or 30 min) and ample time for discussion after each talk. In addition, we had plenary discussions after each session, lead by a distinguished scientist in the field. Due to the stimulating, friendly and open environment, ample discussion was triggered that often went over time. Due to the broad set-up of the meeting, with long breaks, this was easily absorbed in the schedule, however we took great care that the talks did not run over time. All in all such a format was received very positively by the participants.
As mentioned above, several essential aspects set this meeting aside from other meetings. The two main points in our opinion are that we had a new scope, explicitly encompassing all sorts of protein nanoshells and that there was much more time for discussion. The format of the meeting encouraged lively constructive exchanges of ideas between the participants and made this workshop a great success.
We wish to thank all of the LC staff, and Corrie Kuster in particular, for helping to make things run smoothly, which greatly helped to insure the success of the workshop.
Charles Knobler (UCLA)
Wouter Roos (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Reidun Twarock (University of York)