News & Events





X-ray laser study identifies crystalline intermediate in our 'pathway to breathing'

February 11, 2019

Scientists from Arizona State University’s School of Molecular Sciences, in collaboration with colleagues from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, have captured for the first time snapshots of crystal structures of intermediates in the biochemical pathway that enables us to breathe. Their results, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the article "Snapshot of an Oxygen Intermediate in the Catalytic Reaction of Cytochrome c...

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...

Smaller, faster, harder: Crystallography with XFELs

July 30, 2018

Richard Feynman knew a thing or two about biology. He is reported to have said, “Everything that living things do can be understood in terms of the jigglings and wigglings of atoms.” That is undoubtedly true, but until very recently almost everything we knew about biological processes at the molecular scale was derived from static images. Now, however, the new crystallography technique of X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) spectroscopy is enabling structural biologists to take snapshots of...

Better vaccines through innovative DNA immunization

February 27, 2018

Proteins are central players in life processes and are among the most versatile and essential biomolecules. Structural proteins help build and repair tissue, including bones, cartilage, muscles, skin and blood. Enzyme proteins are essential to many chemical reactions, while antibodies—responsible for immune defenses against disease—consist of Y-shaped proteins produced by B cells. Other proteins subtly regulate the expression of genes and perform many other vital tasks. Adorning the...

Army veteran unlocks secrets of photosynthesis as ASU graduate

December 20, 2017

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2017 commencement. See more graduates here. Army veteran Christopher Gisriel, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2013 and is now graduating with a doctorate in biochemistry from Arizona State University's School of Molecular Sciences, really excels in research. After graduating from high school in northern Virginia (though Baltimore is his hometown), Gisriel was urged by his parents to join a military service....

ASU team among first user groups at Europe’s brightest light source

October 17, 2017

A team of ASU scientists led by Professor Alexandra Ros in the School of Molecular Sciences and the Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery, has been just the second user group to conduct experiments at the brand new European X-ray free electron laser facility (EuXFEL) in Hamburg, Germany. This 1.5-billion-dollar facility is the third, and far the most powerful, X-ray laser in the world. After ten years of construction, it opened for first experiments just a month ago. The XFEL...

World's Fastest Movies Capture Molecules in Motion

May 8, 2017

In the latest issue of Scientific American, ASU researchers Petra Fromme and John Spence take readers on a whirlwind tour of their powerful X-ray science, where “new movies of drug proteins or photosynthesis in action, shot in millionths of a billionth of a second, show how the molecules work—or fail.”   It’s a world where “proteins are in constant motion, carrying out the reactions that make life possible. These movements happen on a scale too small, and too fast, to be seen...

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...