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Protein expression, purification, and characterization (PEPC10)

12 – 20 September 2016 | Hamburg, Germany

Registration deadline

19 June 2016

Selected participants will be notified by

28 June 2016

Abstract submission deadline (after acceptance only)

15 August 2016

Payment deadline

10 September 2016

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About the practical course

This intensive EMBO Practical Course is dedicated to modern methods in sample preparation and characterization of proteins for structural studies. It covers cloning and overexpression in bacterial and eukaryotic systems, protein purification, and sample preparation for small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and protein crystallography.

This is a hands-on course for researchers in the early stages of their career who wish to learn molecular biology techniques in sample preparation and characterization for structural studies. It is centered around parallel practicals in small groups with experts using model systems. Participants are also encouraged to bring their own samples for protein crystallization and characterization by thermophoresis and SAXS.

Protein expression

The overexpression of proteins needs to be carefully designed to obtain a significant amount of properly folded material. In this module different protein expression strategies are presented including the following practicals:

  • Know your protein: A 3-hour in silico tutorial on bioinformatics tools available to help you design your expression constructs.
  • Expression in insect cells using baculovirus: A 2x3-hour practical on the preparation of bacmid DNA, insect cell handling and transfection as well as virus generation and small scale expression in insect cells.
  • Human Embryonic Kidney (HEK) cell expression using transposable elements, as well as transient expression. A 2x3-hour practical on cell handling, transfection, harvesting and monitoring of protein expression in a mammalian expression system.
  • Cell-free expression: a 3-hour practical on protein expression using in vitro translation

Protein purification

The purification of proteins to high purity often requires a combination of chromatographic techniques. A 2x3-hour practical will cover alternative approaches in addition to affinity chromatography using Äkta FPLC systems.

Protein characterization by biophysical and structural methods
The biophysical characterization of purified protein provides a quality assessment of the sample and offers complementary knowledge of the system. Students will have access to the integrated facilities provided by EMBL at the PETRA3 synchrotron. The following practicals will be organized:

  • A 3-hour practical on sample optimization using thermal stability assays
  • A 3-hour practical on microscale thermophoresis in collaboration with Nanotempe
  • A 3-hour practical in crystal scoring and optimization
  • A 3-hour practical on vapour diffusion-based crystallization
  • A 3-hour practical on SAXS sample preparation and characterization at the EMBL SAXS beamline
  • A 3-hour practical on crystal harvesting and mounting at the EMBL MX beamlines

A more extensive characterization of samples is sponsored throughout 2016 through the Horizon2020 transnational access program iNEXT.








Registration deadline

19 June 2016

Selected participants will be notified by

28 June 2016

Abstract submission deadline (after acceptance only)

15 August 2016

Payment deadline

10 September 2016












Registration includes:

  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Course materials



Participants in the early stage of their research careers (mid to end of Ph.D. project or early postdoctoral career) will be given preference based on their application and letters of reference. Participants from laboratories within EMBC Member States will be given priority, and the aim is to reach an even balance in gender and geographical location. Preference will also be given to applicants from laboratories that do not have much expertise in protein production and characterization for structural studies.


The course is limited to 20 participants. Preference will be given to graduate students and early postdoctoral students. We also welcome applications from non-academic labs.
For selection purposes, as part of your registration, you will be requested to submit a letter of motivation and a letter of recommendation from your supervisor directly to

Please note that your application will not be considered without a complete motivation and recommendation letter.



The abstract should describe work in progress, so that the tutors and co-participants can get an impression of the topic and the technical challenges of the project of the participant. Length no more than 200 words. Please include title, list of authors and affiliations.



A0 paper size



Students will share a double room. Please specify if special dietary needs are required.


Travel grants

A limited number of travel grants are available for eligible participants. Applicants do not need to apply separately for travel grants for this event. Selection of awardees is handled directly by the organizer who will notify all eligible participants. More information is available at EMBO Travel Grants' page.




Sarah Marshall

Phone: +49-4089902111




venue map


EMBL Hamburg
Notkestrasse 85
D-22607 Hamburg, Germany



The on-site accommodation at DESY will be offered to student participants, which is within a few minutes walk from the EMBL laboratories. DESY possesses a canteen for breakfast/lunch and a bistro opened in the evening and during weekends.  


Hamburg is a lively and cosmopolitan city in the North of Germany. There will be an opportunity to explore on Saturday afternoon. Please visit the Hamburg city website.


Information on how to travel to EMBL Hamburg.



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