All Eyes on X-ray Crystallography

Credit: Thinkstock
Credit: Thinkstock

Increased training and workshops on research and facilities involving macromolecular crystallography is helping EU scientists exploit this technology and develop new materials.

Macromolecular X-ray (MX) crystallography is crucial to many areas of research, particularly in identifying the atomic structure for new materials. The EU-funded project 'European macromolecular crystallography infrastructure network 2' (MAX-INF2) aimed to bolster European infrastructure for MX and provide better education to young scientists and stakeholders involved in its application.

By teaching the user community to exploit MX facilities in a more effective manner, the project has helped ensure that the facilities are maximised and quality knowledge is produced. One of the most important project activities, therefore, was training and use of MX infrastructure through integration workshops involving MX beamtime suppliers from various synchrotron sites and developers of MX. The project conducted three of these workshops that outlined available facilities and helped users to exploit the infrastructure more effectively.

In addition, MAX-INF2 established two theory-based schools that provided in-depth information on the metrology of MX and unveiled novel approaches and methods related to using the infrastructure and conducting experiments.

On the practical side, the project conducted 23 workshops that covered a range of topics, from introduction of crystallography to applied science. Issues such as radiation damage, phasing and drug design were also discussed, as was the development of new algorithms in cutting-edge crystallography software.

The project brought together experts in structural biology software development to advance MX technology and harness its processing power. This daring approach will help upgrade research facilities, tools and opportunities in MX, revitalising a small yet important sector of EU scientific expertise and contributing to the European knowledge economy.