There has been a dramatic increase in the demand for synchrotron radiationfacilities to carry out x-ray crystallographic studies to determine thestructure of biological macromolecules. Existing facilities now struggleto provide scientists with high quality crystallographic beamlines andbeamtime as well as necessary technical support. Primary fundingresponsibilities for individual facilities typically rest with single agencies,but user demand comes from scientists supported by a variety of sponsorsincluding DOE, NSF, and NIH. Tight budgets are making it more difficultfor single agency programs to fund facility operation and also fund theinstrumentation and up-grades needed by the wide range of facility users.
To address this problem, the Office of Science and Technology Policycharged an interagency working group to develop an approach to synchrotronfacilities support and planning. Their report, Synchrotron Radiationfor Macromolecular Crystallography, reconfirms that the demand for synchrotronaccess is high and likely to increase even more rapidly given the growingimportance of timely and accurate information in drug discovery, the studyof larger more complex systems including whole viruses and genomics wherethe discovery of new proteins will provide opportunities for understandingprotein structure and functional genomics.
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