Neutrons in Life Science and Biomaterials

Place: Zoom (online)
Course leaders: Tommy Nylander, LU and Trevor Forsyth, ILL
Co-arranged with LINXS (Åsa Grunning)
Credits:  3 hp
Grade Scale: Pass/Fail

Motivation letter
After the deadline for registration, the organizing group will decide which applicants are accepted for the school. The selection will be based on the applicants’ letter of motivation (maximum half an A4) that must be included in the registration. The motivation letter should declare the applicants’ research focus and what they want and expect to gain from this PhD school.

Eligibility & Prerequisites: PhD students within SwedNess + other PhD students and Postdocs. Maximal number of participants 30. Students will be expected to have a laptop computer sufficient for the analysis and modeling. These practicals will be adapted to be possible on “standard” laptops. Literature will be distributed 2 weeks before course start at the latest.

Course goals:

  • Orientation of the common classes of biomolecules, how the interact and assembly into organelles, cells and tissue
  • Orientation of the main neutron techniques to reveal structure and dynamics in life science
  • The toolbox for data evaluation
  • Useful complementary techniques
  • How to write a successful neutron beam time application.

Schedule: 2x2h lectures & discussions before lunch, exercises and presentation of own project in the afternoon.
Extent: 5 days full time  + 1 week of writing case study
Examination: literature report, presentation of own research, neutron beam time proposal and hand-in of case study
Preliminary list of lecturers:

  • Professor Motomu Tanaka, University of Heidelberg/Kyoto University, Germany/Japan
  • Dr. Frank Gabel, Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS), Grenoble, France
  • Dr. Esko Oksanen, European Spallation Source ERIC, Lund, Sweden
  • Dr. Victoria Garcia Sakai, ISIS, STFC, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell, Oxfordshire, UK
  • Dr. Susana C. M. Teixeira, NIST Centre for Neutron Research, Gaithersburg, MD, USA
  • Professor Trevor Forsyth, Institut Laue Langevin/Keele University, Grenoble, France
  • Dr. Marta Martinez Sanz, IATA-CSIC, Valencia, Spain
  • Dr Hanna Barriga, Karolinska Institutet (KI), Stockholm, Sweden
  • Professor Anthony Watts, University of Oxford, UK
  • Professor Anna Stradner, Lund University, Sweden
  • Dr. John Katsaras, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, TN, USA
  • Dr. Anne Imberty, CNRS, Unversité Grenoble Alpes, Grenoble, France
  • Dr. Hanna Wacklin-Knecht, European Spallation Source ERIC, Lund, Sweden
  • Dr. Marianna Yanez Arteta, AstraZeneca, Molndal, Sweden
  • Dr. Richard Campbell, University of Manchester, UK
  • Dr. Sophie Le Cann, Paris, France
  • Prof. Ilpo Vattulainen, Helsinki, Finland

Course description:

The aim of the course is to expose SwedNESS students to state-of-the-art neutron methodology in Life Science, and to provide a widened knowledge and experience basis for using biomaterials in their own research as a basis for building functional hypotheses. Examples of how neutron methods in Life Science can be used to increased functional understanding and develop novel concepts will be given by internationally recognised expertise. Theory and examples of best-practice will be presented within the following areas: Proteins, Lipids, Carbohydrates, Structure and dynamics, Cells and surfaces, and Industrial applications. Exercises will include both hands-on evaluation of real neutron data in-silico as well as literature studies and beam time proposal writing. The aim of the course is to prepare for active use of neutrons in own research projects as well as to develop neutron experiments and methodology for other life science application in general, including biomaterials and biomedical applications like drug delivery.

Day 1: Proteins

  1. Protein properties: prerequisites for neutron study
  2. Protein crystallization
  3. Labelling for neutron studies
  4. Biophysical pre-analysis before neutron studies

Startup: Literature club
Startup: Neutron beam time proposal in Life Science

Day 2: Structure and dynamics

  1. Fiber diffraction, structure determination
  2. Dynamics
  3. Small-angle neutron scattering
  4. Modelling and molecular simulations

Computer lab sessions working with real data

Day 3: Biomolecules Lipids, carbohydrates, biopolymers

  1. Carbohydrates
  2. Lipids and lipid self-assembly
  3. The crowded environment (
  4. Glycosylation, lectins and molecular recognition

     Computer lab sessions working with real data

Day 4: Cells and surfaces

  1. Cell surfaces and membrane mimics
  2. Vesicles, bilayers and nano domains
  3. Lipolytic enzymes, lipid deutereration
  4. Membrane proteins

Computer lab sessions working with real data

Day 5: Biomedical applications

  1. Lipid nanoparticles for mRNA delivery Marianna Yanez 
  2. Imaging in life science
  3. The air-liquid interface and pharmaceutical applications


Tommy Nylander 
Prof. in Physical Chemistry at Lund University 
Contact info:

Last modified: 2024-03-05