Collaborative Crystallography


Over the last couple of years, advances in hardware and software have transformed protein crystallography into a standard technique for obtaining detailed structural information. In order to provide both expert and non-expert academic users more extended service, a Collaborative Crystallography program is available for non-proprietary users of the sector 5 beam lines. Fast availability of synchrotron beam time and having data collected by expert crystallographers at the BCSB who know the hardware on the beam lines, can prove to be a significant advantage for the user in terms of:
  • Turn around time in crystal structure determination
  • Efficiency of beam time use
  • Reduced travel costs
  • Success of structure solution

How does it work?

User groups that wish to participate in the CC program, will have to submit a project proposal containing a brief description of their research as part of the standard procedure for applying for beam time. A competitive proposal review will take place every two months. Proposals will be accepted on the basis of the scores obtained in the review process as well as availability of beam time in the CC program. Once a proposal has been approved, the proposal contact will be notified. Typically, we expect users to submit a project proposal for a project involving a single structure of interest or a family of related proteins. After a project has been accepted, CC time will be scheduled on the basis of the availability of beam time and personnel. When the structure has been solved or the goals stated in the project proposal have been achieved, participants are encouraged to apply for more beam time for other projects or structures. When a project has been approved, our administrative staff will contact you on how to send us crystals. After the crystals have arrived, the project will be assigned to local crystallographers (Banumathi Sankaran and Peter Zwart), who will collect and process the data. Depending on the needs we could go in detail in solving the structure and refinement.  After the data is collected, crystals and dewars will be shipped back to you. In case the CC user would like to send their DVD/ Hard drive , the data would be copied and send it along with the dewar.  On request the processed data and structure solution results could be sent along with instructions on how to download the results.  

Backup Data


To back up all the data from a source directory into a destination directory on your drive, use:

rsync -ravz source_directory destination_dir If you are logging in from offsite, you can log in through rsync. For instance: rsync -ravz destination_dir where /data/etc is your directory with processed data, and destination is the directory you want the data to be stored in.  

CC terms of Collaboration

  • User and its Host Institution must agree to and follow the BCSB Collaborative Crystallography Program's terms and conditions. This includes naming BCSB Scientist(s) as co-author(s) in publications, and as one of the authors in Protein Data Bank (PDB) depositions related to your beamline project(s).

Pucks and Tools

We can loan pucks and tools for short time for sending the samples. CC users are requested to return the pucks and tools as soon as the data collection is done. Please follow the link for the puck details  

Efficient data collection

In order to increase the efficiency, we encourage users to end us crystals mounted in ALS style pucks. Please note the restrictions on the pin and bases types that our sample changer can handle.If you do not have ALS or uni-pucks in your lab, and you are sending more than 16 crystals, we can send you a set of loaner pucks. In this case, we will not return your crystals to avoid a possible shortage of loaner pucks for other users.Before sending out crystals, make sure you have filled out the experimental info sheet. Please note that we will not be able to collect data if the experimental info sheet has not been supplied to us.  


To participate in the Collaborative Crystallography program, users must have a valid ALS Non-Proprietary User agreement in place. Furthermore, users agree to comply with the CC terms of Collaboration.


Feel free to obtain more information by contacting Banumathi Sankaran at For administrative questions please contact Stacey Ortega at