UPTON, NY - The National Institutes of Health has granted $1.6 million tohelp scientists improve X-ray biology facilities at the U.S. Department ofEnergy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, doubling the existing budget forthe already world-renowned effort.
The grant is the first installment of a five-year, $8.3 millioninvestment in the project, directed by Robert Sweet of BNL's BiologyDepartment and based at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS)facility on the Laboratory campus. Working with Sweet on the project areco-investigators Malcolm Capel and Lonny Berman.
The improvements will help scientists from all over the worlddiscover new biological information about the human body, disease agentsand crop plants. Research results may help pharmaceutical and agrichemicalcompanies develop new medicines or agricultural products.
The grant will allow Brookhaven scientists to develop newstructural biology techniques, equipment, and software to be used at theNSLS. The NSLS produces intense beams of X-rays that scientists use tomake "atomic maps" of molecules.
Recent discoveries there include the first images of the AIDS virusattaching itself to a human cell, and of a part of the Lyme diseasebacterium interacting with a part of the human immune system. Both lay thegroundwork for possible future treatments.
Sweet notes, "This grant will help us to improve the hardware,software and methods that scientists need to do this work, and expand thestaff that helps. We will be able to improve productivity, taking on moreprojects and ending up with better data."
More than 600 biologists from universities, pharmaceuticalcompanies, Brookhaven and other national laboratories used seven of theNSLS's experimental stations in the past year to study biological moleculesusing a technique called X-ray crystallography.
The work requires sophisticated detectors to capture the X-raysthat are scattered by atoms in the crystallized molecules, and advancedcomputer software to translate that information into a finished image ofthe molecule. Both will be improved using the NIH grant.
Other NSLS stations are used for research in physics, chemistry,materials science, environmental science and medicine. In all, 2,300scientists use the NSLS each year.
The grant is being provided by the NIH National Center for ResearchResources.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratorycreates and operates major facilities available to university, industrialand government personnel for basic and applied research in the physical,biomedical and environmental sciences, and in selected energy technologies.The Laboratory is operated by Brookhaven Science Associates, anot-for-profit research management company, under contract with the U.S.Department of Energy.
More information on this program can be found on the World Wide Webat http://lsx12e.nsls.bnl.gov/x12c/nsls_px.html.
The above story is based on materials provided by Brookhaven National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.