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SSRL Headlines Vol. 6, No. 3  September, 2005


Contents of this Issue:

  1. Jo Stöhr Named New Director of SSRL
  2. Science Highlight — Functional Sites of Biomolecules Sensitive to Damaging X-rays
  3. Science Highlight — Structural Insights into Human Innate Immunity
  4. Register for 32nd Annual SSRL Users' Meeting and Vote for SSRLUOEC Candidates
  5. Advances in X-ray Scattering/Diffraction Studies on Non-Crystalline Biological Systems, SSRL32 Workshop, October 15-16
  6. The Role of Small-Angle X-ray Scattering in Materials Science, SSRL32 Workshop, October 19
  7. Soft X-ray Science at LCLS, SSRL32 Workshop, October 18-19
  8. Remote Access for Macromolecular Crystallography Beam Lines, SSRL32 Workshop, October 19
  9. Herman Winick Receives 2005 Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights Award
  10. Franz Himpsel Receives SSIN Prize
  11. SLAC hosts FEL 2005
  12. Structural Molecular Biology Summer School Wrap-up

1.  Jo Stöhr Named New Director of SSRL
      (contact: Keith Hodgson,

Jo Stöhr
Stanford Professor Joachim Stöhr, an innovative x-ray scientist whose research interests are in magnetic materials, will become the new Director of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) on October 1. Deputy Director of SSRL since 2000, Jo will be the fourth director in the pioneering laboratory's 32-year history. The official announcement of Jo's appointment was made to a gathering of SSRL and SLAC staff on Tuesday afternoon, September 27. Persis Drell and Keith Hodgson (SLAC Deputy Directors), Gordon Brown (SSRL Faculty Chairperson) and Nancy Sanchez (DOE Site Manager) offered congratulations and brief remarks. Jo also spoke and indicated that he would continue to lead SSRL in the spirit of his predecessors, with emphasis on outstanding science and caring about the SSRL staff and users. He also emphasized SSRL's important role within the larger SLAC family and the University. He asked the staff for their support in helping achieve continued success for SSRL. A full story and press release can be found at:

2.  Science Highlight — Functional Sites of Biomolecules Sensitive to Damaging X-rays
      (contact: Vittal K. Yachandra,

Photosystem II figure
X-rays intended to elucidate the structure of biomolecules may actually damage and alter key parts of the molecules. A research team led by a group from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (in collaboration with researchers from Max-Planck-Institut Mülheim, ESRF, SSRL, TU Berlin and Freie Universität, Berlin) discovered this while investigating the Mn4Ca complex, a site crucial for splitting water into oxygen during photosynthesis. They were using x-ray absorption spectroscopy to learn about the Mn4Ca structure in crystals of the protein known as photosystem II. They found that the metallo-protein active site, where the water splitting takes place in the protein, had been damaged at certain x-ray doses. In fact, the site had completely changed its structure. This demonstrated that the structural information deduced by using x-ray diffraction is not reliable.

The research suggests that the x-ray dose that can cause such damage to the active site in metallo-proteins, a typical dose for diffraction studies, may be lower than previously believed. However, the new investigation showed that lowering the temperature of the sample and using higher energy x-rays can dramatically reduce damage, thus providing a way for working around the problem.

To learn more about this research see:

2.  Science Highlight — Structural Insights into Human Innate Immunity
      (contact: Ian A. Wilson,

TLR3 figure
We have to defend ourselves from the challenge of microbial pathogens every day. Innate immune system represents the first line of defense against microorganisms by selectively detecting foreign molecules. The Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are one of the most important sensors of the innate immune system and recognize conserved molecules from various pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. Using x-ray data collected at SSRL Beam Line 11-1 and at the ALS, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have determined the 2.1 Å x-ray crystal structure of the ligand binding domain of one of the human TLRs (TLR-3). Human TLR3 is activated by double-stranded RNA associated with viral infection. The structure shows a large horseshoe-shaped "solenoid" assembled from 23 leucine-rich repeats (LRR). One side of the TLR3 is glycosylation-free and suggests its potential role in ligand binding and oligomerization. Two patches of positively charged residues and a TLR3-specific LRR insertion may provide an appropriate binding site for negatively-charged double-stranded RNA.

To learn more about this research see:

4.   Register for 32nd Annual SSRL Users' Meeting and Vote for SSRLUOEC Candidates
      (contact: Cathy Knotts,

Users Mtg Announcement
If you haven't already done so, there is still time to register for the 32nd Annual SSRL Users' Meeting on October 17-18 (SSRL32). This meeting will feature sessions on x-ray absorption spectroscopy, structural genomics, ultrafast science, a sampling of materials research from other DOE Labs, a young investigators session, and reports on new developments at SSRL (including a discussion of top-off injection). Users are encouraged to share the results of experiments performed at SSRL during the poster session on October 17. The poster session will also feature a competition for the most outstanding graduate student posters (the cost of the awards dinner is waived for graduate students submitting posters; winners receive a certificate and a $100 prize). Pre-registration ends on October 7, and abstracts must also be received by this date to be included in the program book. Walk-in registration and late posters will be accepted during the meeting, as space is available.

The SSRL user community is represented by scientists in various disciplines who serve on the SSRL Users' Organization Executive Committee (SSRLUOEC). In 2006, the SSRLUOEC will need new representatives in Environmental Science, Biospectroscopy, Macromolecular Crystallography, and a graduate student (in any discipline). Please take a few minutes to review the candidate biographies at the following link, and return your ballot to us by October 17:

The newly elected SSRLUOEC members will be announced at the awards dinner on Monday, October 17. All interested users are invited to join with the current and newly elected SSRLUOEC members when they meet on Tuesday, October 18, at 3-5:30 pm (this immediately follows the Annual Users' Meeting). Users are also invited to the post-meeting reception which will be held at the SLAC auditorium lobby on Tuesday, October 18, 5:30-7:30 pm. Additional information on the SSRLUOEC, including the list of the current members and minutes of previous meetings are posted at:

5.   SSRL32 Workshop: Advances in X-ray Scattering/Diffraction Studies on Non-Crystalline Biological Systems, October 15-16
      (chair: Hiro Tsuruta,

BioSaxs Workshop Image
The significance of non-crystalline diffraction techniques has been rediscovered in recent years by an increasing number of structural biologists to complement higher resolution structures by crystallography, NMR and cryo-EM. The latest advances in X-ray solution scattering, fiber and membrane diffraction studies on biological systems will be reported by several experts covering a diverse spectrum of structural biology benefiting from non-crystalline diffraction studies. The workshop will include demonstrations of several computer programs for processing solution x-ray scattering and interpreting low-resolution structures. The participants will also receive updates on current and future developments at SSRL BL4-2, the dedicated small angle scattering/diffraction facility for structural biology, funded by NIH NCRR and DOE BER.

For more program information see:

Register at:

6.   SSRL32 Workshop: The Role of Small-Angle X-ray Scattering in Materials Science, October 19
      (chairs: Mike Toney,; John Pople,

This will be a hands on workshop with intent to demonstrate the burgeoning applicability of small-angle x-ray scattering (SAXS) resulting from the expansion of research and development on the nanoscale. The day will begin with presentations, briefly showing the techniques involved in SAXS in Materials Science and more closely focusing on current experimental data at the forefront of research which demonstrate the power of SAXS capabilities. The presentations will be semi-formal, with questions and discussion encouraged. Attendees will then move onto the beam line floor to gain hands-on control of configuring the SAXS beam lines (BL 1-4 will be utilized for this purpose) and collecting and analyzing data. New software recently developed for data analysis will be demonstrated. This practical aspect of the workshop will highlight both the techniques involved in SAXS data collection, reduction and analysis as well as identifying the limitations of existing beam line facilities. A final presentation will outline suggestions for a new Materials Science beam line at SSRL which can overcome those limitations and advance the capabilities that SSRL is can provide to the Materials Science community.

For more program information see:

Register at:

7.   SSRL32 Workshop: Soft X-ray Science at LCLS, October 18-19
      (chairs: Jan Lüning,; Anders Nilsson,; Jo Stöhr,

This workshop is aimed at the formation of a user community with a common interest in ultrafast and ultrabright soft x-ray pulses from a free electron laser like LCLS. The workshop will bring together scientists interested in developing new techniques and tools tailored for experiments relying on ultrafast soft x-ray laser pulses with scientists interested in utilizing the unique properties of such soft x-ray pulses for their research. The workshop will start with a series of invited talks that will give an overview about soft x-ray laser sources and techniques currently available or under development as well as about first performed and currently planned or envisioned experiments utilizing soft x-ray laser pulses. In order to provide an environment for intense discussion, all participants are encouraged to contribute to the workshop. To contribute to the workshop, please send a title to and let us know how much time you would like to have reserved for your contribution. In addition to contributed talks there will also be time reserved for 'walk-in' presentations.

For more program information see:

Register at:

8.   SSRL32 Workshop: Remote Access for Macromolecular Crystallography Beam Lines, October 19
      (chair: Mike Soltis,

SSRL now provides remote access tools that allow experimenters to screen macromolecular protein samples and collect crystallographic data from remote locations, anywhere in the world. The system makes use of high capacity sample cassettes and robotic mounting systems implemented on the macromolecular crystallography beam lines.

SSRL is hosting a remote access workshop where participants will learn about remote experimentation as well as specific methods for mounting crystals in cassettes and subsequent shipment of cassettes to SSRL. Participants are encouraged to bring their laptop computers and learn how to successfully install the remote access software (Windows, MAC and Linux operating systems are currently supported). Participants will be able to control beam lines remotely and also learn how to use Web-Ice, a web-browser based interface for scoring and indexing diffraction images.

Register at:

9.   Herman Winick Receives 2005 Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights Award
      (by: Nina Adelman Stolar, SLAC Communication Office)

Herman Winick
The Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) has jointly awarded Herman Winick (SSRL) and Professor Zafra Lerman (Columbia College Chicago) the 2005 Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights Award. The Committee on Human Rights of Scientists letter of recommendation recognizes Winick's effective and tireless work on behalf of dissident scientists throughout the world, particularly in Iran. Previous recipients include SLAC's Sid Drell and Andrei Sakharov.

The Committee on Human Rights of Scientists of the New York Academy of Sciences was formed in 1978 to pursue the advancement of the basic Human rights of our colleagues throughout the world. The Pagels Human Rights of Scientists Award is given to scientists in recognition of the contributions they made to safeguard or advance the human rights of scientists throughout the world. The award will be presented at the Academy annual meeting in New York City on September 29.

For the full article including Herman's thoughts upon receiving the award, see:

10.   Franz Himpsel Receives SSIN Prize

Franz Himpsel
Congratulations to Professor Franz Himpsel on receiving the First Laureate of the Semiconductor Surfaces, Interfaces and Nanostructures (SSIN) Prize for his seminal and outstanding contributions into these fields. The Prize was awarded at the 10th International Conference on the Formation of Semiconductor Interfaces (ICFSI-10) in France in July 2005. Himpsel, whose research interests include solid state physics-including electrical, magnetic, and optical properties, is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is also a member of the SSRL Scientific Advisory and Proposal Review Panel.

11.   SLAC Hosts FEL 2005
       (contacts: John Galayda,; Ingolf Lindau,

On August 21-26, LCLS and SSRL hosted the 27th International Conference on Free Electron Lasers, FEL2005. The conference took place at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center on Stanford Campus and attracted slightly more than 300 registered participants and 12 industrial exhibitors. A total of 250 papers had been selected by the Program Committee (chaired by Claudio Pellegrini) for presentation at the meeting, divided between invited, oral and poster contributions. A broad spectrum of topics were covered: high gain, single-pass FELs; high average power, long wavelength FELs, FEL oscillators and storage ring FELs, technology advances (accelerators, undulators, high brightness electron guns, diagnostics, detectors). A number of presentations were devoted to recent developments of x-ray FELs and potential future scientific applications. The participants were engaged in lively discussions both at the oral presentations and at the poster sessions. Dr. Z. Huang, SLAC, gave a much appreciated lecture in memory of the late scientist Ming Xie. This year's FEL prize was awarded to Dr. Avraham Gover from the University of Tel-Aviv for his many pioneering contributions to the FEL field, including a unified theory of superradiant emission. The proceedings will be published on-line at the Joint Accelerator Conference Website (, and should be available by the end of October 2005. The International Executive Committee decided that the next FEL conference will be held in Berlin August 27-September 1, 2006, with BESSY as the host.

12.   Structural Molecular Biology Summer School Wrap-up
      (contacts: Clyde Smith,; Serena DeBeer George,

The fifth Structural Molecular Biology (SMB) Summer School (SMB) was held at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) from September 12-15. This year the school focused on two synchrotron-based techniques: x-ray absorption spectroscopy and macromolecular crystallography and the application of these techniques to biological problems (small angle x-ray scattering, which is usually taught as well, is the subject of a two-day workshop in conjunction with the 2005 Annual SSRL Users' Meeting). This year's Summer School was attended by 21 students and taught by a team of 14 tutors. It consisted of a day and a half of lectures, followed by two days of rotating practical sessions, concluding with another half day of lectures on advanced topics in synchrotron-based structural molecular biology given by Drs. Ingrid Pickering from the University of Saskatchewan, David Bushnell and Dan Herschlag (both from Stanford University).

The Summer School was opened by Britt Hedman (SSRL), who gave an overview of synchrotron radiation and structural biology at SSRL. It was followed by introductory talks on synchrotron radiation and beam line optics, given by James Safranek and Thomas Rabedeau (SSRL), respectively, at which point the method- and science-specific program ensued. The SMB Summer School series is switching from an annual school to a biennial format, with workshops in the intervening years, and we plan to come back in 2007 bigger, brighter and better than ever before! The Summer School series is an integral part of the NIH NCRR and DOE BER funded SMB program.


SSRL Headlines is published electronically monthly to inform SSRL users, sponsors and other interested people about happenings at SSRL. SSRL is a national synchrotron user facility operated by Stanford University for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences. Additional support for the structural biology program is provided by the DOE Office of Biological and Environmental Research, the NIH National Center for Research Resources and the NIH Institute for General Medical Sciences. Additional information about SSRL and its operation and schedules is available from the SSRL WWW site.


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