Changes of state and mind: A new phase for structural biology?

7.50pm to 9.15pm, Friday 29 January

The Theatre

The Royal Institution of Great Britain GB United Kingdom W1S 4BS 21 Albemarle Street London

This event has already taken place

  • Computational Structural Biology

    Credit: Carnegie Mellon Computational Biology, University of Pittsburgh


Standard £18


Concession £15


Discounts for Members

Event description

Knowing the shape of proteins is crucial for our understanding of human health and for developing new drugs. To do this current methods require proteins to be dissolved in a solution or locked in a crystal lattice. These approaches are incredibly powerful and are the mainstay of the field of structural biology as we know it. But what about the third phase? How would proteins survive once they have gone beyond solid and solution phases and released into the atmosphere?

While many scientists thought that proteins would no longer maintain their shape in the vapour phase Carol Robinson embarked on eccentric research into studying proteins freely moving within in this phase. This work proved to be unpredictably worthwhile, and her gas phase structural biology is now providing a new view of dynamic interactions between proteins, lipids and drugs.

About the speaker

Dame Carol Robinson is a British chemist, working as a Royal Society Research Professor at the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory at the University of Oxford.

Carol is the first female Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and was previously the first female Professor of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. She is renowned for pioneering the use of mass spectrometry as an analytical tool and for her ground-breaking research  into the 3D structure of proteins.

Food and Drink

The Discourse is a perfect occasion to meet like-minded people who share an enthusiasm for science and technology!

Our Discourse drinks reception in the Atrium provides a vibrant and welcoming social space where Ri members and their guests can meet each other, share a drink or two with canapés and explore 200 years of science innovation in the Faraday Museum before attending the Discourse in our famous lecture theatre. The reception runs from 6.30pm – 7.30pm and tickets are £15 per person for Ri members and their guests. Please select the relevant option when booking your tickets.

A fine dining menu is also served before and after the Discourse in our restaurant and restaurant reservations are open to Ri members and non-members. To book your table, please call 020 7670 2973 or email

Please note

If you haven't been before, please note that Friday Evening Discourses are traditional events that date back to 1825. With that in mind, many attendees like to wear smart evening dress, though this is not a requirement.

There is also a certain level of tradition and ceremony during the event, including: the speaker and host walk through the doors as the clock bell rings at exactly 8pm; the speaker starts the talk with no introduction or hellos, and should finish at 9pm as the clock bell rings again; the speaker is locked in a room 10 minutes before the talk begins to prevent them running away (legend has it that once a speaker escaped just before the discourse). 

Find out more about the history of the Friday Evening Discourses on our blog.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri Channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

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