Structural Biology Core Facility in 2019

January 9, 2020

sbcf_symbol_colour

The first full year of operating Core Facility under the FNP Team Tech Core Facility grant is behind us. Tons of reagents and consumables were extensively used for the research of our users. We acquired new collaborations and new users. Here’s a short report on Core Facility achievements from the last year.

Our Crystallization Platform was used by 38 researchers from 11 different groups. 24 individual scientific projects benefitted from services provided by us in the year 2019. We extended our base of users to not only local users but also scientists from Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw etc. Overall, 1832 crystallization screens were performed. 11 visits to synchrotrons (BESSY, ESRF, Elettra, SLS, MaxIV etc.) resulted in the collection of 488 complete data sets. On average for each Synchrotron trip, we took 156 crystals from 10 different projects. The most successful trip turned out to be the trip to MAX IV Synchrotron in Lund, Sweden where our team reached a success rate of 80% collecting 90 datasets out of 112 crystals. 

Meanwhile, the Cryo-EM platform gained a highly qualified microscope operator and the “Titan Krios G3i” microscope successfully installed at Solaris at the end of August. The microscope successfully went through the site acceptance test and also passed our internal extensive testing. We were able to start measurements with friendly users to test internal procedures and learn on their samples. We are ready to accept the first official user starting in March 2020. 30 research proposals were submitted in the first call via DUO System and now the independent evaluation committee is rating the proposals, and assigning the beamtime for each project. Moreover, we have established a pipeline for staining and vitrification of samples.

We are focusing also on building a strong community of future users and reaching a broad audience of scientists to inform them of Core Facility capabilities. On our www.structuralbiology.pl website users can find all required information as well as easy and fast contact with Core Facility staff to answer any questions. You can follow the Core Facility via Facebook and Twitter. We are organizing numerous events to bring the structural biologists together, to encourage collaboration and sharing the knowledge. In 2019 we hosted 2 medium-size events gathering structural biology community – 1st Cryo-EM Consortium Meeting where we gather 60 Polish Specialist and 2nd Symposium on Recent Advances in Cryo-Electron Microscopy where we gathered 80 international and Polish specialist among which we invited world-class speakers such as Holger Stark or Karim-Jean Armache, and different Core Facility Leaders. They shared their knowledge and experience in – i.a. preparing the samples, leading Core-Facility or doing world-class research. We managed to organize workshops for students and young scientists by cooperating with companies such as Nanotemper, Douglas Instruments or ForteBio and also COOT training for PhD Students of SMM School from Warsaw. 

To ensure the efficient and smooth operation we implemented a fully electronic booking and monitoring system. Furthermore, the core facility utilizes a centralized IT system with access for all users (including specialized crystallographic and single-particle cryo-EM software tools). 

Recently, we have successfully applied for the grant extension till January 2023 and the additional funding of 1 mln PLN. We have also established a collaboration with Core Facility for Crystallography and Biophysics in Warsaw to create Integrative Platform for Accelerated Drug Discovery.

We noticed increased interest within the scientific community in SBCF services in an increased number of users of the crystallization platform as well as huge interest in using cryo-electron microscopy. In the future we plan to continue our efforts in all fields, being present in different channels of social media, having a very updated and informative website and also organize numerous events and training for our users and potential users.

Altogether, the successful performance of Structural Biology Core Facility has contributed to its strong national and international visibility.