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DOE's Argonne Lab Plans $34.5M Protein Crystallization Facility

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Department of Energy broke ground yesterday on a $34.5 million facility located at the Argonne National Laboratory that will provide protein crystallization services for biomedical research and other scientific studies, according to ANL.

Located in Argonne, Ill., the Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility (APCF) was designed and will be built with funds from the State of Illinois.

The 50,000-square-foot lab will enable researchers to produce, purify, and characterize a range of proteins rapidly, and will specifically support genomics studies conducted by the DOE's Structural Biology Center (SBC) and the Midwest Center for Structural Genomics (MCSG) , both of which are located in Argonne's facilities.

The MCSG is one of four Protein Structure Initiative Centers funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and it "will be the cornerstone of the initial research at the APCF," ANL said Tuesday.

"When the doors of this building open, it will create extraordinary new opportunities for biological, pharmaceutical, and biochemical research, spurring discovery, innovation and job creation at Argonne and throughout Illinois," ANL Director Eric Isaacs said in a statement.

"The biggest bottleneck in protein crystallography arises not when we're taking the crystallization data, but in the earliest steps of protein crystallization," Carol Giometti, director Argonne's Biosciences Division, which operates the SBC, said in a statement. "When the APCF opens, it could increase our productivity by a factor of five compared to where we are right now."

The APCF will be outfitted with high-throughput microfluidics and robotics instruments to enable protein crystals to be manufactured on a mass scale, according to ANL.

ANL said it expects the new facility to reap $110 million for research activities over a five-year period, creating 550 jobs, and that it will bring in extra funding to research centers such as the University of Illinois.

"The APCF will directly and indirectly enhance the efforts of many researchers," added Wayne Anderson, a professor at Northwestern University and director of the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases.

"Not only will our projects benefit through use of the advanced technology at the APCF but also collaborations between investigators at a number of Illinois institutions will move more quickly, providing experimental results that will expand research programs and enhance drug discovery efforts."