Our research center is in the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. Its research complements the institute’s mission to overcome complex global challenges by unlocking life’s important secrets to create knowledge for improving human health, security and sustainability.

We are actively involved in the following research projects:


Femtosecond nano-crystallography of membrane proteins

Femtosecond pulses of X-ray free electron lasers are used to investigate the structure of membrane proteins. The project aims to develop the method of femtosecond crystallography for the structure determination of membrane proteins, where X-ray structure analysis is based on hundreds of thousands of X-ray diffraction patterns from a stream of fully hydrated nano/microcrystals of membrane protein crystals. This project aims to open an exciting new avenue for membrane protein crystallography, where hundreds of thousands of diffraction patterns can be collected in a few minutes from fully hydrated micro/nano crystals in their native conditions at room temperature, using X-ray laser pulses that are so short that no X-ray damage occurs during data collection. This method will be used to solve novel X-ray structures of membrane proteins.

Center for membrane proteins in infectious diseases

MPID is a PSI:Biology center investigating the structures of viral, bacterial and human membrane proteins involved in pathogenesis. Under the leadership of the principal investigator, Petra Fromme, the MPID Center is trying to use the biological theme of membrane proteins in infectious diseases as the basis for the determination of novel membrane protein structures and to develop new technologies for high throughput membrane protein expression, isolation, functional characterization, crystallization and structure determination.

The MPID Center targets membrane proteins of important viral and bacterial pathogens, their infectious pathways, and molecules involved in host defense against the pathogens. The structural determination of each of the targets may provide important clues for the understanding of the infectious disease pathways and can therefore form the basis for the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.

Biology with X-ray lasers

BioXFEL is a Science and Technology center using X-ray lasers to image biomolecular machines in motion. X-ray lasers provide snapshots of unprecedented clarity depicting the building blocks of life. The motions and arrangements of these blocks underlie all biological function. The mission of BioXFEL is:

  • To use X-ray lasers, to watch biomolecular machines in operation, the better to understand how life works at the molecular level.
  • To understand how these molecular machines support life on Earth.
  • To invent, discover, develop and provide new tools and training to bring X-ray laser technology to the wider scientific community.