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Automated Macromolecular Crystallization System

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The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center has a strong and growing structural biology community, illustrated by our recent successes in both protein and RNA crystallography. To build on this excellence and enhance our ability to support the commitment of the NIH to structural biology, we propose to purchase an automated crystallization system consisting of: 1) a liquid handling/reagent mixing robot; 2) a nanoliter drop-dispensing robot; and 3) an automated microscope/imaging system. This equipment allows more rapid, reproducible, systematic exploration of crystallization conditions with smaller sample size than can ever be achieved by hand. The University has made a commitment to this proposal by providing dedicated and prepared space, matching funds, and salary support for a facility manager. This equipment will have an immediate and lasting impact on NIH-funded research in areas as diverse as virology, cancer, RNA splicing, addiction, infectious disease, and protein synthesis. Specific benefits include: Increased productivity: We will be able to screen more targets with more conditions in a shorter period of time, increasing the number of crystals we will obtain. In addition, lab personnel will not have to devote time to the repetitive task of setting up crystal trays by hand. Crystallization of difficult targets: Samples that are difficult or expensive to purify, or that are limited in quantity, can be successfully explored using less material and more crystallization conditions. Increased collaborations: New "non- structural" labs will be able to readily screen samples for crystallization, increasing the potential for new structures and the use of current NIH-funded resources. Cost savings. Cost of crystallization trials will decrease due to the use of smaller amounts of reagents, including solutions and protein/RNA samples.

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