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Nobel Prize winner opens Eleanor and Guy Dodson Building at University of York

Posted on 6 October 2023

Nobel Prize winner Dr Richard Henderson has officially opened the University of York’s Eleanor and Guy Dodson Building.

The opening of the Eleanor and Guy Dodson building. From left to right: Professor Tony Wilkinson, Professor Duncan Bruce, Professor Caroline Dessent, Professor Eleanor Dodson, Professor Matthias Ruth, Dr Richard Henderson and Dr Jamie Blaza. Image credit: University of York.

The state-of-the-art building enables world-leading research to take place into the molecular structure of biomolecules by providing optimal conditions for electron cryo-microscopy.

Electron microscopes allow scientists to visualise the proteins and other biological molecules that sustain life. Understanding the structure of these molecules aids the design of new medicines, for example antibiotics or vaccines.


The building’s name pays tribute to the pivotal role played by Eleanor and the late Guy Dodson in establishing the world-renowned York Structural Biology Laboratory (YSBL) within the Department of Chemistry.

Dr Henderson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution. 

Dr Henderson said: “The understanding of biological structures has grown in importance and impact over many decades since the 1950s. 

“It now forms the foundation of much of biology and medicine, so the inauguration of the Eleanor and Guy Dodson building at the University of York is a key part of the future access to the methodology by present and future scientists."


The building was designed around the specific requirements of structural biology hardware and provides low-vibration, low-humidity, constant-temperature conditions for the electron cryo-microscopy suite. 

Its construction was funded by a generous grant from the Wolfson Foundation and the University of York, while the equipment was funded by the Wellcome Trust, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, and Dr Anthony H Wild, an early York Chemistry graduate and generous benefactor to the University of York.


Dr Jamie Blaza, the academic lead on the cryoEM facility, added: “Our key pieces of equipment, the electron microscope, NMR magnet, x-ray source, and crystallisation space, all have demanding environmental requirements for optimal performance.

“Even harder than that, they all have different requirements to each other. By providing us with a building designed from scratch around these activities, the Eleanor and Guy Dodson Building will offer YSBL a perfect home to our structural biology equipment for decades to come.” 

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