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By working closely with crystallographers at the Hauptman-Woodward Institute (HWI), the Structural Molecular Biology (SMB) group at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) is perfecting the technology for remote access data collection.  The SSRL SMB group operates six beam lines (BL1-5, BL7-1, BL9-1, BL9-2, BL11-1, and BL11-3) for macromolecular crystallography experiments.  Additionally, a new undulator station optimized for microcrystal data collection, BL12-2, is being commissioned.   The users of these beam lines have the option to collect data remotely and, during the 2007 run period, about 70% of experiments have been scheduled for remote access thereby saving travel time and expenses.  While remaining at their home institutions, remote users conduct experiments by means of advanced software tools enabling network-based systems monitoring and control.  Remote users have the capability to mount, center, and screen samples as well as to collect, analyze, and backup diffraction data.  Automated sample mounting is accomplished with the Stanford Auto-Mounting System (SAM).  In this way, users can screen crystals 2-3 times more rapidly with less human error.  Beam line and experimental control is carried out using Blu-Ice/DCS software.  For rapid crystal ranking and data analysis, the diffraction images collected during screening are automatically analyzed, and the results, which include the number of spots, Bravais lattice, unit cell, estimated mosaicity, and maximum diffraction resolution, are visible through the Blu-Ice and Web-Ice applications.  Using these tools, crystallographers located at HWI have screened over 1,300 crystals, collected more than 30 data sets, and solved 21 new structures including a novel membrane protein.


S. M. Soltis, A. E. Cohen, A. Deacon, T. Eriksson, A. Gonzalez, S. McPhillips, H. Chui, P. Dunten, M. Hollenbeck, I. Mathews, M. Miller, P. Moorhead, R. P. Phizackerley, C. Smith, J. Song, H. van dem Bedem, P. Ellis, P. Kuhn, T. McPhillips, N. Sauter, K. Sharp, I. Tsyba and G. Wolf. (2008). New Paradigm for Macromolecular Crystallography Experiments at SSRL: Automated Crystal Screening and Remote Data Collection. Acta Crystallogr. D64, 1210-1221.