Even before he joined Strubi Steve was central to the planning of OPIC and during his time with us he led the establishment of high-end cryo-EM in Oxford. Stephen was a gentle and kind man, valued colleague and a great mentor of young scientists, among those who passed through his laboratory are Erika Mancini, Sarah Butcher, Doryen Bubeck, Giulia Zanetti and John Briggs. Reflecting this commitment to the development of young scientists Steve was a major driving force for the highly successful and continuing programme of EMBO courses on cryo EM and a key advocate for establishing the electron microscopy databank (EMDB). Overall his enormous generosity and enthusiasm for training and helping people to use cellular and molecular electron microscopy have made a major contribution to the development of the whole field of structural biology.
Helen Saibil has provided the following assessment of Steve’s own scientific focus and contribution:
‘Stephen Fuller pioneered the development and application of experimental and computational methods of cryo electron microscopy and 3D reconstruction to understand the cell and molecular biology of pathogens, especially viruses. His papers on Semliki Forest Virus provided a major advance in the use of icosahedral reconstruction to determine virus structure from cryo EM images, including the use of rapid mixing and freezing to trap early intermediates in the process of viral fusion with the host membrane (Cell, 1995). He combined the use of single particle and tomographic approaches to integrate cell and structural biology, and did an early study of centriole structure. Subsequently he produced a series of important papers on retroviral structure and assembly, and an impressive electron tomography study of cytotoxic lymphocytes attacking infected cells, showing details of the polarisation of cellular structures and involvement of the centrosome at the immune synapse (Nature, 2006).‘