New x-ray resource for examining biomolecular structures

Bethesda, MDThe National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today an agreement between the Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Photon Source (APS) and the NCRR-supported Northeastern Collaborative Access Team, or NE-CAT, to build three experimental stations, known as beamlines, at the APS for synchrotron radiation research.

These beamlines will harness the brilliant X-rays generated at the APS and apply them to the study of protein complexes and other biomolecular structures. Detailed understanding of molecular shapes and interactions has allowed scientists to devise improved therapies for diseases ranging from AIDS to the flu.

Synchrotron X-rays have an incomparable ability to reveal the three-dimensional structures of biological molecules at high resolution. Therefore, access to synchrotron research facilities is in great demand by the biomedical research community. Currently synchrotron radiation can be generated at fewer than a dozen facilities in the United States. Of the 40 beamlines operational in the United States, NCRR supports 24not including the new NE-CAT stationsfor use by NIH-supported investigators and other biomedical researchers.

"NE-CAT will provide biomedical scientists with urgently needed access to synchrotron radiation, which is an unsurpassed tool for probing biomolecular structures" says NCRR Director Dr. Judith L. Vaitukaitis. "Information from detailed structural studies will lead us toward an understanding of how proteins function and interact and will, in some cases, be the basis for designing new therapeutics for human disease."

The NE-CAT research team comprises faculty from six academic institutions: Cornell University, Columbia University, Harvard University, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University and Yale University. The NE-CAT director is Dr. Stephen E. Ealick, professor of chemistry and chemical biology

Contact: Kathy Kaplan
NIH/National Center for Research Resources

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