Elham Vahdahatar

I was born in Ahwaz, Iran. I studied cellular and molecular biology (genetics) at the Isfahan University. Then I chose to study biophysics at the University of Tehran. My master thesis was about the effect of potassium sorbate and vitamin C on fibrillation of bovine serum albumin. I really like to know more about proteins, these molecules ensure the fulfilment of the majority of cellular functions such as molecular recognition (immune system), signalling pathways (hormones), metabolite and nutrient transport, as well as catalysis of biochemical reactions (enzymes). Also, I like to play ping pong, I am an amateur pianist and I wish to progress beyond amateurism by practicing it.

Université grenoble alpes

start date | 01/10/2017

supervisor | Monika Spano


Optimization of crystal growth of membrane proteins for advanced diffraction techniques

Crystallography is one of the most relevant methods to study the structure of proteins. This method requires crystals with appropriate size and good diffraction quality. A crystallization bench was designed in the IBS lab a few years ago for this purpose. With this device, we can control various parameters (temperature, chemical composition) during the crystallization in order to optimize the crystallization condition to get bigger crystals or uniform population of tiny crystals. The main challenge of my PhD project is to pursue development of the crystallization bench and adapt it for the crystallization of membrane proteins.

Another objective is the integration of the in situ UV spectroscopy to investigate multidimensional phase diagrams and the use of the statistical modeling to rationally improve the latter stages of membrane protein crystallization. As a consequence, we will be able to grow appropriate crystal samples of membrane protein and know more about their structures by using the Neutron Macromolecular Crystallography and fast time-resolved X-ray crystallography.

Original project advert

Skills & Expertise

#Protein engineering /purification


#Ligand-based Drug design

#Structural biology

#X-ray Crystallography

#Molecular Biology


University of Surrey (UK), June 2019

Maynooth University (Ireland), November 2018

Aarhus University (Denmark), September 2018

Nat-Xray (France), November 2017

Workshops & conferences

Journées CRISTECH 2020 | Lyon (France), October 2020

FEBS School – Advanced methods in macromolecular crystallization VIII | NovéHrady (Czech Republic), June 2018

Outreach activities

Elham has not just been doing research, she has also been involved in science communication activities to engage citizens with science.

Teaching assistant in Biological crystallization at ANF 2019 | Grenoble (France), September 2019

Teaching assistant in Biological crystallization at HERCULES school | Grenoble (France), March 2019

Blogging about science and PhD life| see all blogposts from Elham: Portrait, the FEBS advanced courses at Nove Hrady (Czech Republic), News from crystallization bench in Grenoble, Retrospective on 3 years of thesis

Participating to the event “Crystals made of tears: from misery to cheer” at The Devereux pub in central London | July 2019

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