European XFEL Science Seminar

Facilities: How to avoid running out of samples by rethinking their role

by Prof. James H. Naismith (Division of Structural Biology, University of Oxford)

via Zoom

via Zoom


Technology at centralised facilities has revolutionised our ability to study biology, I will mainly focus on structural biology at the atomic level. I will define atomic level to mean a resolution of below 1.2 nm.

I will briefly review the field, its importance and the technology trends shaping it.

I will showcase the work of the Franklin tackling the covid19 epidemic.

I will mainly focus on a provocative view of the future of centralised facilities.

The XFEL stands out as being able to deliver unique insights into the chemical steps of biology. This is enormously exciting but it is of course extremely expensive.

Central facilities by design operate as “build it and they will come”. 

Centralised facilities face a challenge, their focus on measurement means they are improving their technology. 

This creates a challenge, the facilities can build machines that are able to collect more samples than the community can prepare.

This disconnect occurs because sample preparation remains a cottage industry with few centralised efforts.

The risk is the community can formulate the question but lack the expertise to prepare the sample for central facilities answer it.

I believe that central facilities need to redirect a portion of their activities to invest in sample preparation.

In essence, I suggest that central facilities must grow towards the user.

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Meeting ID: 933 6892 9804
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Organized by

Sakura Pascarelli / Gabriella Mulá-Mathews