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SSRL has resumed operations for research in a remote access mode with COVID-19 related work being a priority.
Remote access experiments are currently being supported at the macromolecular crystallography beam lines BL12-1, BL12-2 and BL9-2, with fast access through the Rapid Access Proposal mechanism for COVID-19 related studies.
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James Holton, Adjunct Professor at the University of California, San Francisco and Scientist both at the Molecular Biophysics and Bioimaging division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories (LBNL) and at the Structural Macromolecular Biology division at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), is the 2020 recipient of the ACA's David J. Rognlie Award in recognition for his exceptional and highly impactful technical discoveries and developments in structural science.
Although contemporary Serial Crystallography (SX) techniques were originally developed for the XFEL, there is growing interest in pursuing SX at synchrotron sources where beam time availability is not as scarce. Serial methods can provide vital insight into challenging areas such as room temperature studies, protein dynamics and overcoming problems from radiation damage. Organizers from SLAC National Laboratory (Jennifer Wierman, Aina Cohen, and Art Lyubimov), Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (Aaron Finke), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Nick Sauter) and Diamond Light Source (Graeme Winter) teamed up to introduce participants to SX, from sample preparation and data collection to structure solution.
During the workshop, participants were given an exciting live demonstration of serial data collection via a remote desktop connection to the microfocus beamline 12-2 at SSRL. Methods for automated positioning and exposure of multiple crystals on fixed-target mounts were demonstrated including helical data collection modes for larger crystals and the use of UV-tryptophan fluorescence microscopy for identifying randomly orientated micro-crystals.
A new Multi-Technique Proposal mechanism (pilot phase) has been created for projects that require the use of two or more scientific techniques available at SSRL (this includes both x-ray and EM). The pilot proposal mechanism initially covers Macromolecular Crystallography, Small Angle X-ray Scattering, and Cryo-EM. A goal will be to expand it in the future to include additional techniques such as those available at LCLS. The new pilot proposals require a thorough justification as to why the two or more techniques are required for scientific success. The proposals are reviewed by an ad hoc Proposal Review Panel comprised of members of the SSRL SMB and Cryo-EM PRPs.
SSRL now supports remote experiments using crystals at elevated temperatures and controlled humidity. For these experiments, users ship crystals affixed to magnetic bases held inside newly developed plates compatible with crystal growth, crystal storage, crystal shipment and robotic sample exchange. Controlled humidity and multi-temperature experiments are supported, each designed with specific protocols for sample preparation and mounting based on your experimental goals.
On all beamlines, automated data processing starts in the background during data collection, providing quick feedback on the quality of the data and the results are archived after ~1 week. Results can be viewed by clicking on the dataset in the Web-Ice Data Processing Tab.
On BL12-2 and 9-2, a raster option is now available for centering samples during automated crystal screening, augmenting loop centering. The raster uses low-dose x-rays to accurately locate the crystal. With this option, significant swaths of data or complete data sets can be collected as part of a screening workflow.