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Scientific Opportunities: Life Sciences

Overview | Chronology | Macromolecular Crystallography | Structure & Dynamics | Biological & Biomedical Imaging

Planning for Life Sciences at NSLS-II: A Chronology

Since 2007, through workshops, trips to Washington, white papers, and other activities, NSLS-II planners have been steadily mapping out what promises to be a rich life sciences research program at the new facility.


July 17-18, 2007 – Brookhaven Lab hosts the first NSLS-II user workshop, which was attended by over 450 participants, including many members of the life sciences user community and representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER).

January 15-16, 2008 – A scientific strategic planning workshop at Brookhaven Lab marked the beginning of plans for life sciences research and beamlines at NSLS-II. The goal of this workshop was to generate a detailed white paper that presented a vision of Life Sciences research, beamlines, and facilities at NSLS-II and describes the path forward and timeline toward achieving this goal.

April 27-28, 2008 – NIH and DOE convened a working group to evaluate the capabilities and capacity needed for life sciences research at NSLS-II. The panel was charged to answer questions about the status of synchrotron resources and new capabilities presented by NSLS-II. This workshop and report focused on macromolecular crystallography and x-ray scattering.

September 11-12, 2008 – A second NIH/DOE workshop, supplementing the first, focused on spectroscopy and imaging. The informal report generated from the workshop is here.

February 19 and May 22, 2009 – Steve Dierker (Associate Laboratory Director for Light Sources), Wayne Hendrickson (NSLS-II Associate Project Director for Life Sciences), and Lisa Miller (Deputy Associate Project Director for Life Sciences) traveled to NIH and DOE headquarters, respectively, to update program managers on NSLS-II planning.

June 4-5, 2009 – NIH held a workshop to follow up on the previous two. The advisory panel was asked to make recommendations regarding beamline optics and instrumentation specifications for NSLS-II beamlines. It was also asked to make recommendations for management models of NSLS-II life sciences beamlines. Additionally, the panel addressed how $45 million in pledged NIH funds might be used to create beamlines for macromolecular crystallography, small-angle x-ray scattering, and imaging. Here is the official report from this workshop.

July 23-24, 2009 – The Lab hosted a workshop entitled “MX Frontiers at the One Micron Scale.” This NSLS-II “new opportunities” workshop hosted macromolecular crystallographers using micro-focused x-ray beams and experienced designers of their beamlines to discuss the unique scientific and experimental capabilities at the one-micron scale.

October 30, 2009 – DOE-BER Director of the Biological Systems Sciences Division, Sharlene Weatherwax, visited the NSLS to learn about opportunities for life-science investments at NSLS-II and how BER-funded researchers might benefit from using NSLS-II. An introductory white paper presented at this visit can be found here.

January 12, 2010 - Weatherwax asked NSLS-II management for a full-length white paper summarizing the issues discussed during her visit, which was submitted in January 2010. Over 70 co-authors, including 40 BER-funded investigators, contributed to this white paper, which proposed seven beamline programs that would greatly enhance the research of the BER community.

February 1, 2010 – The fiscal year 2011 NIH budget reports that the National Center on Research Resources contributed $12 million from their ARRA funds in FY10 and NIH plans to provide $33 million in FY11 for NSLS-II beamlines. The FY10 and FY11 combined investment will be $45 million.

February 23, 2010 – Dierker, Hendrickson, and Miller traveled to Washington to attend the BER Advisory Committee (BERAC) meeting and discuss the white paper with Weatherwax.

March 26, 2010 – NSLS-II issues its 2010 call for beamline development proposals.

April 26, 2010 – NSLS-II receives 57 Letters of Intent for beamline development proposals, including more than one-third with a life and/or environmental science focus.

June 21, 2010 – NSLS-II receives 54 Beamline Development Proposals.  During the summer of 2010, these proposals were reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Committee and 34 proposals were approved in the fall of 2010.

October 1, 2010 – The NSLS Department and the NSLS-II Project are reorganized at BNL to form the Photon Sciences Directorate.

February 16, 2011 – NSLS-II issues its 2011 call for beamline development proposals.

March 28, 2011 – NSLS-II receives 14 Letters of Intent for beamline development proposals, including four with a life and/or environmental science focus. The deadline for full proposals was July 25, 2011 and proposals were reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Committee in the fall of 2011.

April 28 – 29, 2011 – NSLS-II hosts a workshop on Trends in Structural Biology at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

May 9, 2011 – NSLS-II hosts a workshop on Medical Imaging and Therapy at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

May 9 – 11, 2011 – BER hosts a workshop on the impact of DOE National User Facilities in the field of biological research. NSLS-II provided an overview of the new facility and a statement of opportunities for biological research that gives some examples of significant new experiments with potentially high impact in biological research.

May 25, 2011 – The DOE approves the Mission Need Statement (CD-0) for the NSLS-II Experimental Tools (NEXT) project, which provides NSLS-II with funding for 6 additional beamlines. The NSLS-II Beamline Development Policy is also posted online.

July, 2011 – Three approved Beamline Development Proposals are selected to be constructed with NIH funding: Frontier Macromolecular Crystallography (FMX), Highly Automated Macromolecular Crystallography (AMX), and X-ray Scattering for Life Sciences (LIX).

January 17 – 18, 2012 – The Conceptual Design Review was held for the three NIH-funded beamlines. The project is titled Advanced Beamlines for Biological Investigations with X-rays (ABBIX).

For more information, contact Wayne Hendrickson or Lisa Miller.

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Last Modified: April 2, 2013
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