Prof. Frank von Delft

Diamond Light Source


Prof. von Delft’s overall research project is to establish methods to ensure that X-ray structures can serve as a routine and predictive tool for generating novel chemistry for targeting proteins – as opposed to them being only occasionally and retrospectively useful descriptively, as is currently generally the case.

He is head of the Protein Crystallography SRF of the Centre for Medicines Discovery (CMD), which grew from the Oxford site of the Structural Genomics Consortium. Prof. von Delft is also, jointly, Principal Beamline Scientist of beamline I04-1 at Diamond Light Source synchrotron (Harwell).

In late 2012 he also joined Diamond, to configure beamline I04-1 into a user facility for routine fragment screening by X-ray structures: this XChem facility has since supported large numbers of discovery projects from academia and industry. Accordingly, his research addresses the challenges both the upstream and downstream of the fragment screen: how to generate crystals that are suitable for such screening, and afterwards, how to proceed routinely from such a screen to compounds with biologically relevant affinity.

The research approach is two-pronged: developing the infrastructure (robotics, hardware, beamline) required to drive the throughput necessary for identifying the most appropriate samples at each step in the experimental process; and improving the methodology available at each step.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof. von Delft co-founded the COVID Moonshot, and antiviral drug discovery now forms part of his active research. He is also the scientific lead on the K04 flagship beamline of the Diamond-II upgrade, that aims to increase 10x the X-ray throughput of the XChem experiment.


Invited Speaker

High-quality hits from XChem with Fast-Forward Fragments combining HT crystallography, fragment merging and low-cost robotics