News/Events

X-ray eyes peer deeper into deadly pathogen

March 5, 2020

Tularemia is a rare but often lethal disease. It is caused by one of the most aggressive pathogens on earth, the bacterium Francisella tularensis. The microbe, transported by a variety of animals and insects, is able to enter and attack the body through a range of pathways, resulting in different constellations of symptoms and degrees of severity. Tularemia remains poorly understood and no safe and effective vaccine exists for the disease. The extreme lethality of F. tularensis and its...

Spence named Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors

December 9, 2019

Professor John C. H. Spence, a Richard Snell Professor of Physics at ASU, jointly appointed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, Calif. and a faculty member of the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Helvetica Neue'} Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional accolade bestowed solely to academic inventors who have...

The sounds of science: A quiet home for a powerful laser

December 3, 2019

Descending into the basement of Biodesign Institute Building C, a stillness settles around you. The sounds of skateboards clacking across sidewalks, students hurrying to class, even the chime of the nearby light rail and rush of traffic fade the deeper you go into the copper-plated, five-story building.  “You can feel it. You can just feel how quiet your feet are,” says Mark Holl. “Theoretically, this is one of the quietest, most vibration-free rooms in the entire...

Bright lights, big science: Revolutionary laser instrument receives $4.7 million boost from the National Science Foundation

September 17, 2019

Deep within the subterranean confines of Building C—the latest addition to the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University—a pathbreaking machine is quietly taking shape. Designed to unlock some of nature’s tiniest and most fleeting mysteries, the Compact X-ray Free Electron Laser (CXFEL) is the only instrument of its kind in the world. The device is the brainchild of physicist William Graves, a passionate authority on massive, intricate machines for leading-edge science. For the...

ASU and BioXFEL consortium awarded $22.5 million to capture biology at the atomic level using X-ray lasers

October 10, 2018

Eight Arizona State University faculty researchers in a seven-campus consortium of U.S. universities are revolutionizing bioimaging through collaborations with academia and industry. A $22.5 million award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) allows the group to continue their groundbreaking work to develop advanced imaging techniques for critical biological processes that are difficult, if not impossible, to see with conventional methods. According to BioXFEL Director Edward Snell,...

First experiments at Europe's new X-ray laser reveal structure of antibiotic-disabling enzyme

October 2, 2018

International collaboration obtains the first scientific results from European XFEL An international collaboration led by the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron or DESY, with participation from Arizona State University’s Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery, the Department of Physics and the School of Molecular Sciences, has announced the results of the first scientific experiments at Europe's new X-ray free-electron laser, European XFEL. Over 120 international...

X-ray pulses reveal structure of viral cocoon

February 13, 2017

Scientists analyze smallest ever protein crystals Arizona State University’s Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery (BCASD) and an international team of scientists have used high-intensity X-ray pulses to determine the structure of the crystalline protein envelope of an insect virus. Their analysis reveals the fine details of the building blocks that make up the viral cocoon down to a scale of 0.2 nanometers (millionths of a millimeter) – approaching atom-scale...

Structural biologists capture detailed image of gene regulator’s fleeting form

November 17, 2016

Using an ultrafast, high-intensity radiation source called an X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL), scientists have captured an atomic-level picture of an RNA structure called a riboswitch as it reorganizes itself to regulate protein production. The structure has never been seen before, and likely exists for only milliseconds after the riboswitch first encounters its activating molecule. “We showed that structural changes in biochemical reactions or interactions between molecules can now be...

Biodesign C will help advance scientific frontiers

October 12, 2016

Arizona State University’s newest research building will be packed with the most advanced construction and technological gear of today. The science that goes on inside will find answers that benefit society every day after. Researchers will tackle the early detection and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, speed up drug discovery and explore new avenues in renewable energy. The third building in ASU’s Biodesign Institute complex, Biodesign C on the Tempe campus, will serve as home...

X-ray study unlocks secrets of light-sensing organism

May 5, 2016

High-speed photography can capture a horse’s gallop, a falling star or even a speeding bullet. But such methods would be far too slow to record the elusive movements of protein molecules as they undergo transitions from one form to another—a process known as isomerization. In new research appearing in the journal Science, an international team of researchers used brilliant bursts of X-ray light to capture the movements of a photosensitive protein—one that enables a broad range of life...