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Vol. 14, No. 8 - March 2014

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Science Highlights

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Structural Rearrangement in Ebola Virus Protein VP40 Creates Multiple FunctionsContact: Erica Ollmann Saphire, The Scripps Research Institute

Proteins are molecules with a wide range of functions in all living organisms. As potential drug targets, they are of great interest for pharmaceutical and medical research. Proteins are built from long amino acid chains that fold up into three-dimensional structures, which determine the proteins’ functions. In most cases, proteins fold into only one specific, albeit, dynamic structure. Now, scientists have determined that the protein VP40 of the Ebola virus assumes three completely different structures with three very different biological functions.  Read more...

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Fatty Acid Biosynthesis Caught in the ActContacts: Shiou-Chuan Tsai, University of California–Irvine and Michael Burkart, University of California–San Diego

Fatty acids are key components of a variety of biological functions ranging from cellular membranes to energy storage. In addition, they are of great interest as potential “green” biofuels and targets in the development of novel antibiotics. In order to fully exploit their potential, researchers must first understand in detail how organisms synthesize fatty acids. However, due to the dynamic nature of the process, structural and functional studies of fatty acid biosynthesis are very challenging. A team of scientists has recently made a giant leap forward by determining the structure of a protein–protein complex that represents a snapshot of fatty acid biosynthesis in action.  Read more...

More SSRL-Related Science

Fossil Leaves Preserve Living Chemistry

Excerpted from March 26, 2014 SLAC Newsflash

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X-ray studies conducted at SSRL and at the Diamond Light Source in the United Kingdom have resurrected the detailed chemistry of 50-million-year-old leaves from fossils found in the western United States and found striking similarities to their modern descendants.

Using the same nondestructive x-ray fossil-scanning techniques that revealed color patterns in the plumage of an early "dinobird," researchers mapped for the first time the traces of various metals that remain in the fossil leaves and compared those to the location and concentration of the same metals in modern leaves.

Based on detailed images and related research, the researchers concluded that the metals present in the fossil leaves are a product of their living chemistry.  Read more...

Upcoming Onsite Events

SSRL School on Synchrotron X-ray Scattering Techniques in Materials and Environmental Sciences, June 3-5, 2014

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The 7th SSRL SRXRS (Synchrotron Radiation-based X-ray Scattering techniques) School will provide a practical users' guide to planning and conducting scattering measurements at SSRL beam lines, and will cover important techniques including small angle scattering, thin-film scattering, powder diffraction, structure refinement and surface x-ray scattering. The school will address topics that are not commonly included in text books or class lectures, and typically obtained only through on-the-experiment training. There will be hands-on sessions at SSRL beam lines and session of diffraction theory and on data analysis. The school will also cover new instrumentation at SSRL scattering beam lines. This year's school, which will take place June 3-5, is organized by: Apurva Mehta, Stefan Mannsfeld, Chris Tassone, and Mike Toney.  See website

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PULSE Institute - Ultrafast X-ray Summer Seminar, June 15-19, 2014

Hosted by the PULSE Institute at SLAC, the UXSS is organized in collaboration with the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science at DESY in Hamburg, Germany, and the Helmholtz Virtual Institute for Dynamic Pathways in Multidimensional Landscapes, Germany.

The goal of UXSS 2014 is to disseminate information and train students and post-docs on new opportunities in ultrafast science, particularly using x-ray free electron lasers.  See website

SSRL School on Synchrotron X-ray Microscale Imaging Techniques, July 11-15, 2014 - Save the Date

The 1st SSRL SXRMI (Synchrotron X-ray MicroXAS Imaging) School will provide a practical users' guide to planning and conducting microXAS imaging experiments at SSRL beam lines. Students will participate in hands-on sessions at the beam lines, including on the following facilities: hard x-ray microXAS imaging (BL2-3), hard x-ray mesoprobe XASimaging (BL10-2), and the newest microXAS imaging “tender” energy beam line (BL14-3).  The hands-on sessions will be paired with several sessions of data analysis and data mining of imaging data. The School will also cover new instrumentation and techniques at SSRL microXAS imaging beam lines and will include topics that can only be learned by direct access and experience at the facility through on-the-experiment training. This initial school, which will take place July 11-15, is organized by Sam Webb and Courtney Roach. Watch for the School's webpage to appear soon on the SSRL News & Events page.

High Power Laser Workshop, October 7-8, 2014 - Save the Date

SSRL/LCLS Annual Users' Conference and Workshops, October 8-11, 2014 - Save the Date

Macromolecular Crystallography: Stanford AutoMounter (SAM) Developers' Forum Workshop, October 10, 2014 - Save the Date

NUFO Events

NUFO Annual Meeting at PNNL, April 30-May 2

The 2014 Annual Meeting of the National User Facility Organization (NUFO) will be hosted by EMSL April 30-May 2 at PNNL in Richland, Washington. The meeting theme, “Bridging Science Across National User Facilities,” will challenge attendees to look for new ways of collaborating across national user facilities to accelerate scientific advancement.  Keynote speakers, including DOE Office of Science Public Affairs Director Rick Borchelt, will address the benefits of team science as well as the potential challenges.  Facility Directors, User Executive Committee members, managers/administrators, and researchers will break out into groups to explore the potential opportunities and barriers in policies, operational requirements and user concerns for multidisciplinary joint science.  Read more

Call for User Science Demonstrations, Videos for NUFO Science Exhibition in DC, June 10

A National User Facility Organization (NUFO) User Science Exhibition will be held on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 in the foyer of the U.S. House of Representatives Rayburn Office Building. Discovery and energy are the themes for the NUFO exhibition. Users are encouraged to participate in this event, which will feature hands-on demonstrations, videos, and examples of user and industry research. Contact NUFO Vice Chair Stephen Wasserman (swasserman@lilly.com).  The Future of America is the Research of Today

User Research Administration Announcements

  • Proposal Deadlines

    X-ray/VUV proposals can be submitted three times a year: June 1, and September 1 and December 1

    Macromolecular Crystallography proposals can be submitted April 1 and July 1 and December 1.

    Submit beam time requests and proposals through the user portal.

  • Inform Us of Publications, Awards, Patents

    SSRL provides technical tools for world-leading science at no charge for scientists who conduct non-proprietary research, with the understanding that significant results are to be publicly disseminated. Scientists must acknowledge use of the facility in presentations and publications and must inform us of all publications, theses, awards, patents and other forms of recognition resulting from research conducted fully or partially at SSRL. These metrics of scientific achievements and productivity are extremely important to the facility, and to our funding agencies

    Reminder:  Please also contact us as research results are about to be published so that we can work with you to more broadly communicate your research.

  • Temporary Food Service Available during Construction of New Cafeteria in Science and User Support Building

    The SLAC Cafe, auditorium and visitor center have been closed and will be replaced with a new Science and User Support Building (SUSB). During this construction (2013-2015), temporary food service will be provided by the Cardinal Chef Mobile Gourmet food trucks, 11am - 2pm in front of SLAC Building 27. Lunch menus are posted online.  See map

    In an effort to expand the food service available onsite SLAC has also launched a "Virtual Cafeteria" using services provided by the "Eat Club".  Eat Club is a local lunch delivery service. They collaborate with local restaurants to provide quality food fitting a variety of tastes at an affordable price. Orders are placed and paid for through their online service. The SLAC community can review the daily selections and place an online order in the morning using a personal credit card. Drop-off delivery will be made around noon each day to several locations around the site.  A drop-off location has now been added in the SSRL Building 120 Experimental Hall.

    Individual on-line registration takes just a few minutes. The url for sign-up for a free account and for pre-order is www.myeatclub.com/slac-cafeteria

    A Starbucks kiosk near the Guest House parking lot will open early this summer to offer daily walk-up coffee and takeout pastries and cold sandwiches. The kiosk will be open from 6am to 6pm Monday through Friday, and tentatively on weekends from 6am to 2pm.

  • User Input Requested for Stanford Guest House Survey

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    If you have tried to get reservations at the Guest House within the last year, and have not yet completed a survey, please contact Jonathan Faulker, jfaulkne@stanford.edu, who is gathering Guest House utilization data. Your input could help the Guest House to provide better services or to increase the capacity or availability of rooms for users!

  • Construction Update

    There are several construction projects currently underway at SLAC in addition to the above mentioned Starbucks kiosk and patio dining area.

    From March to mid-May, construction of the Scientific User Support Building (SUSB) will involve excavation and removal of dirt from the SUSB site, so please exercise caution when moving around the site, particularly between the SLAC entrance and Sector 22.

    During this time, people interested in exercising (walking, running, etc.) along the linac are advised to take the less traveled south side of the road. More updates will be provided as they become available.

    At times, flagpersons will be directing traffic. Please drive with caution, obey all traffic signs and plan for additional travel time along Loop Road.


  • The Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) is a third-generation light source producing extremely bright x-rays for basic and applied research.  SSRL attracts and supports scientists from around the world who use its state-of-the-art capabilities to make discoveries that benefit society. SSRL, a U.S. DOE Office of Science national user facility, is a Directorate of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science.  The SSRL Structural Molecular Biology Program is supported by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research, and by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of General Medical Sciences. For more information about SSRL science, operations and schedules, visit http://www-ssrl.slac.stanford.edu.

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    Questions? Comments? Contact Lisa Dunn