Posted: May 26, 2009

Nanyang Technological University conducts world's first remote x-ray scattering experiment

(Nanowerk News) On 26th May, Nanyang Technological University’s School of Biological Science (SBS) will pioneer the world’s first remotely controlled Solution X-Ray Scattering (SAXS) experiment. The experiment will be initiated from Singapore at 4.10pm – 6pm in SBS and conducted at the German Electron Synchrotron, Hamburg, Germany.
This event will mark a milestone in how traditional SAXS experiments are conducted by allowing scientists to control and conduct their research without being actually present at the facility where the synchrotron is located.
Due to the massive size and complexity of the synchrotron, there are just 37 in the world today. Therefore the success of this unconventional first experiment will mean saving precious resources on travelling time and costs, scientists can now choose instead to concentrate on perfecting their techniques and use the additional funds for materials and samples that might potentially bring about quicker advancement in the course of their studies.
Knowledge gained from previous SAXS experiments have been credited for the structure determination of the vacuolar ATPase proton pump, which has been proven as a contributing factor in multiple diseases pertinent in our society including osteoporosis, deafness, malaria, encephalitis, yellow fever, HIV-infection and cancer.
In 2008, Associate Professor G. Grüber and Associate Professor J. Lescar of SBS has collaborated with the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, Singapore to use SAXS in determining the structure of the NS3 protein from the Dengue virus. This revelation promises to give further insight into the development of treatments for future Dengue outbreaks in the region.
Accompanying this breakthrough in remote SAXS experimentation are a series of workshops and tutorials that will span across two days. These events will make up Southeast Asia’s first practical course in SAXS and features prominent experts from all over the world, such as Dr Michel H.J.C. Koch, from the EMBL-Outstation in Hamburg, Germany where the remote SAXS experiment will be conducted.
The goal of this course is to be able to train scientists from Singapore and Southeast Asia in the emerging area of SAXS, which has enjoyed a renaissance in the last fifteen years to become a major technique in structural biology and material sciences.
The course is broken into two parts, the first for pre-registered participants which will consist of hands-on practice in workshops conducted within the SBS laboratory. According to Associate Professor G. Grüber, response to the workshops has been excellent with over 120 applicants for a total of 32 available slots.
To further engage the research community in Singapore and the region, the rest of the course consisting of seminars and tutorials will be open to the public, making this a great learning opportunity and an avenue for the exchange of ideas with an international cast of experts.
Ultimately the objective would be to conduct similar programmes every two years in the hope of making a stronger headway in the field of SAXS by educating potential researchers in this area.
With these two major firsts, the unique SAXS experiment and concurrent course, Nanyang Technological University continues to push the envelope in research development by reinforcing its status as a leading university dedicated to nurturing creative leaders in the fields of science and technology.
Source: Nanyang Technological University
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