About Macromolecular Crystallography

The Macromolecular Crystallography Group, a subdivision of the Structural Molecular Biology Group at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), operates several macromolecular crystallography (MC) X-ray diffraction facilities on the high-brilliance SPEAR synchrotron radiation X-ray source and provides expert scientific and technical support for visiting and remote researchers. 

Macromolecular Crystallography is an X-ray diffraction technique used to reveal the three-dimensional structures of biological molecules (proteins, metallo-enzymes, viruses and nucleic acids) to atomic resolution (~1-3 Å). High structural resolution helps elucidate the detailed mechanisms by which these molecules carry out their functions.

The MC group has developed cutting edge instrumentation and novel data collection and processing methods that have led to significant scientific discoveries in fundamental molecular biology and advances in bio-energy and human health.  For example, the in-house development of the Stanford Auto-Mounter (SAM) robot for mounting frozen samples in a highly automated fashion was instrumental in Roger Kornberg's structural studies of RNA polymerase, the molecular machine responsible for DNA transcription, for which he won the 2006 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.