- Number 346 |
- September 19, 2011
Argonne breaks ground on Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility
Argonne National Laboratory
broke ground in August on a
$34.5 million Advanced Protein
Crystallization Facility (APCF).
DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory broke ground in August on a $34.5 million Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility (APCF) that will enable scientists from Illinois and around the world to produce, purify and characterize a wide range of proteins more rapidly and have a critical role in the development of important medical therapies.
The State of Illinois will provide funding for the design and construction of the APCF, which is slated to open in 2014. This is the third major investment by the state in Argonne’s facilities. Illinois also provided funds to construct the Argonne Guest House, which provides lodging for visiting scientists, and the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), which abuts Argonne's Advanced Photon Source (APS). Like the CNM, the APCF will also be located next to the APS.
“Argonne National Laboratory plays a key role in Illinois' innovation ecosystem, bringing together leading researchers from across the state and around the world and providing them with exceptional scientific facilities that foster productive collaborations,” said Governor Patrick Quinn. “The State of Illinois’ investment in Argonne's new Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility will help researchers to better understand the building blocks of life itself—and to apply that knowledge in new ways, discovering powerful new medicines to fight disease and preserve health. The investment also will create hundreds of new jobs in our state, now and for decades to come.”
The 50,000 square-foot state-of-the-art structural genomics facility will complement DOE's Structural Biology Center (SBC), also located at the APS. The SBC is a scientific user facility that hosts hundreds of researchers for X-ray protein crystallography studies. The APCF will provide those visiting researchers with modern laboratory space for sample preparation prior to using the SBC beamlines to collect data. Protein crystallography is one of the most important tools for drug and vaccine developers, who use the technology to discover the molecular mechanisms of disease in order to design better cures.
“The Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility will be a premier facility for advanced research in the structure and function of proteins, adding yet another important tool to Argonne’s exceptional suite of scientific facilities,” said Argonne Director Eric Isaacs. “When the doors of this building open, we will have extraordinary new opportunities for biological, pharmaceutical and biochemical research, spurring discovery, innovation and job creation at Argonne and throughout Illinois.”
By making possible large-scale research in molecular biology, biochemistry and protein engineering, the facility will play a critical role in helping researchers from academia and industry develop biomedical products that can be made and marketed by existing and entrepreneurial firms.
While protein crystallography experiments will continue to be performed at the SBC, scientists at the APCF will use robotics to accelerate the production, purification and crystallization of the proteins to be analyzed. The APCF will provide researchers with the ability to manufacture protein crystals far more quickly and more accurately than ever before, according to Joachimiak. "The biggest bottleneck in protein crystallography arises not when we're taking the crystallization data, but in the earliest steps of protein crystallization," he said. “When the APCF opens, it could increase our productivity by a factor of five compared to where we are right now.”
Submitted by DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory