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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...

World’s top researchers convene at ASU Biodesign to improve understanding of molecules in action, helping to advance areas including medicine and clean energy

November 26, 2019

Early in November, under azure Arizona skies, researchers from around the world gathered at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus for an unusual scientific conference. “Functional dynamics—visualizing molecules in action” was sponsored by the premier scientific journal Nature, in collaboration with the Biodesign Institute at ASU. The conference highlighted recent advances that have allowed scientists to probe critical aspects of nature occurring at mind-bogglingly tiny dimensions...

One step closer: Membrane protein structure expressed in Lyme disease could offer therapeutic target

November 26, 2019

Stories of those afflicted with Lyme disease abound and cases appear to be on the rise. Yet few are aware of the symptoms, severity or cause of this disease, which is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Lyme disease, which is caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete bacteria, is transmitted from ticks to humans. It represents the most common vector-borne illness in the Northern Hemisphere, and in the United States alone, there are 300,000 cases annually. As the number of cases...

Imaging at the speed of life

November 18, 2019

The European XFEL marks a new age of protein movie-making that enables enzymes involved in disease to be observed in real time To study the swiftness of biology – the protein chemistry behind every life function – scientists need to see molecules changing and interacting in unimaginably rapid time increments – trillionths of a second or shorter. Imaging equipment with that kind of speed was finally tested last year at the European X-ray Free-Electron Laser, or EuXFEL. Now, ASU...

Photosynthesis seen in a new light by rapid X-ray pulses

November 8, 2019

The ability to transform sunlight into energy is one of Nature’s more remarkable feats. Scientists understand the basic process of photosynthesis, but many crucial details remain elusive, occurring at dimensions and fleeting time scales long deemed too minuscule to probe. Now, that is changing. In a new study, led by Petra Fromme and Nadia Zatsepin at the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery, the School of Molecular Sciences and the Department of Physics at ASU, researchers...

First-of-its-kind instrument enables one-of-a-kind student experience

October 1, 2019

What’s better than spending a hot Arizona summer working in a cool basement? Spending a hot Arizona summer in a cool basement, building a scientific instrument expected to be the first of its kind in the world. Beneath the newly opened Biodesign Institute building C, five Arizona State University students put their education to work this summer, aiding in the first phase of the compact X-ray free electron laser (CXFEL), a miniaturized high-fidelity X-ray source. While most free electron...

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...

Nature Research and the Biodesign Institute to co-host fall conference on imaging molecular reactions

August 13, 2019

Some of the world’s most accomplished scientific minds will converge on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus on November 6, 7 and 8 to explore new methods that make it possible to observe molecules in action. Illustrating the adage, "seeing is believing," the conference, “Functional dynamics – visualizing molecules in action,” will showcase how cutting-edge methods are pushing the boundaries of knowledge. At the conference, scientists will discuss how emerging methods – that...

Finding answers to cancer in the cosmos

April 25, 2019

When it comes to new diagnostics and treatments for cancer, researchers across the world are gaining traction. Now, scientists at the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery (CASD) are turning to outer space to understand the inner workings of a cancer-linked protein, known as Taspase 1. In conjunction with NASA and the National Cancer Institute, the CASD team plans to grow crystals under the conditions of microgravity in low earth orbit. The ultimate goal is to use this method to...

Beuses' $10 million gift to build world’s first-of-its-kind X-ray laser lab at ASU

April 18, 2019

Through their generous philanthropic investments, Leo and Annette Beus have already made a lasting ASU impact. They have changed the face of the downtown Phoenix landscape with the addition of the Beus Center for Law and Society, supported Sun Devil Athletics and provided numerous scholarships to increase student access to a college education. Now, with a new $10 million investment, the Beuses want to help shape the future of medicine and improve the lives of others. Their ever-deepening ASU...