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Human Genome News Archive Edition
Vol.9, No.3   July 1998

In this issue... 

Also available in pdf.

1997 Santa Fe Highlights

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After the Genome Project: Understanding the Data

Survey Identifies Growing Need for Synchrotron Analyses

Structural Biology and Synchrotron Radiation: Evaluation of Resources and Needs (1997) is a report on the current status of biological uses and demands of synchrotron radiation in the United States. For this report, staff at the synchrotron radiation facilities and their user communities were surveyed, and a group of experienced structural biologists analyzed the data.

In evaluating what synchrotron facilities and support operations are needed and in anticipating future requirements for sustaining the exciting progress in structural biology, the BioSync Committee noted the expanded impact of structural biology in recent years. This expansion has led to an increase in the size and complexity of macromolecular structures being determined and in the difficulty of experiments being pursued. Structural biology is having a widening effect on such diverse fields as immunology, neurobiology, cell biology, virology, physiology, molecular biology, medicine, and biotechnology.

Recent advances in structural biology can be attributed to (1) methodological improvements that allow a vast array of cellular proteins to be cloned and expressed in quantities sufficient for structural studies, (2) use of cryocrystallography to prepare extremely stable crystals, and (3) availability of and technological innovations at synchrotron radiation facilities (see Envisioning the Proteome.) These factors have brought many more projects of high biological significance into the realm of structural biology. Without synchrotron sources, many of these new research projects could not have been undertaken.

The BioSync Committee reached the following main conclusions:

  • Structural biology research is producing results of high biological impact that have a direct bearing on human health issues.
  • Synchrotron radiation, combined with multiwavelength anomalous diffraction phasing, has revolutionized the discovery of new macromolecular structures.
  • Noncrystallographic applications to structural biology continue to expand.
  • Demand for structural information and synchrotron time is growing very rapidly in all molecular fields of biology.
  • Regional facilities will increase in importance.
  • The most cost-effective way to improve throughput at synchrotron facilities is to upgrade existing beamlines.
  • More cooperation is highly recommended among organizations funding synchrotron facilities and basic research.
  • A BioSync report published in 1991 concluded that structural biology, especially crystallography, was a very rapidly expanding field with a growing impact on basic and applied biology and that synchrotron radiation facilities available at the time were insufficient for the community's needs. Construction of additional beamlines and improved support for existing beamlines were recommended. Much of this increase has been realized with new facilities at Argonne and Berkeley and additional beamlines for biological use at Brookhaven, Stanford, and Cornell.

1997 BioSync Report

  • Electronic version: PDF
  • Print copies: J. Hollister; Department of Biological Sciences; Purdue University; West Lafayette, IN 47907

Related Information

Human Genome Project 1990–2003

The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international 13-year effort, 1990 to 2003. Primary goals were to discover the complete set of human genes and make them accessible for further biological study, and determine the complete sequence of DNA bases in the human genome. See Timeline for more HGP history.

Human Genome News

Published from 1989 until 2002, this newsletter facilitated HGP communication, helped prevent duplication of research effort, and informed persons interested in genome research.