Dr. Abbas Ourmazd (UWM) joint papers cited in background of recent Nobel Prize in Chemistry

The BioXFEL Center is pleased to announce that our very own Dr. Abbas Ourmazd of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is an author on two joint papers that were included in the background of the recent Nobel Prize in Chemistry using Cryo-EM to determine biological structure.  These papers concerned conformational movies and energy landscapes, which were mentioned as important directions for the future.  These papers can be seen as references 85 and 86 of the award announcement found here.  Find out more in the Nature article, "Cryo-electron microscopy wins chemistry Nobel".

Links to each of the papers are below:

Conformational Dynamics and Energy Landscapes of Ligand Binding in RyR1

Trajectories of the ribosome as a Brownian nanomachine



Puerto Rico Assistance Programs

On September 20th, Hurricane Maria made landfall over Puerto Rico and devastated the island. Weeks later, communications and basic necessities have still not been restored. It will likely take months to restore a sense of normalcy and years to fully recover.

In response to this disaster, BioXFEL has created 2 new programs to assist our friends and colleagues of Puerto Rico.

1. Student Exchange Program

  • Graduate and undergraduate students of UPR will be given the opportunity to come to labs in the states.
  • Graduate students may keep working on their projects, or something related, and undergraduates could participate in an internship.
  • This would be a short term appointment - the duration will be determined by funding availability and the recovery times in PR.
  • Students may be placed at Hauptman-Woodward in Buffalo, New York, Rice University in Houston or potentially at Stanford University/SLAC in Menlo Park California.
  • Funding will be available to assist with travel and support their expenses.
  • There may opportunities for professors from UPR to go on sabbatical at one of these locations.
  • If you are interested, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details.
  • Spaces are limited and students with prior involvement in BioXFEL will be given preference.

2. Laboratory Recovery Efforts

Once initial recovery efforts on UPR campuses are complete, BioXFEL is prepared to assist with supplying essential lab supplies that may have been damaged or lost during the storm. More details will be made available once PR communications have been restored. The type and quantity of materials will be dependent on funding available.

To request specific reagents or materials, please use our request form

Europe’s X-ray laser fires up

Scientists who make movies of molecules in motion have a new high-speed camera to shoot with. The €1.2-billion (US$1.4-billion) European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) will start running its first experiments in September near Hamburg, Germany. The European XFEL fires powerful X-rays in bursts of a few hundred femtoseconds: so short that, like strobe lights, they can capture snapshots of jittery molecules frozen in time, and with a wavelength small enough to provide pictures at atomic resolution.


Structural enzymology using X-ray free electron lasers

Mix-and-inject serial crystallography (MISC) is a technique designed to image enzyme catalyzed reactions in which small protein crystals are mixed with a substrate just prior to being probed by an X-ray pulse. This approach offers several advantages over flow cell studies. It provides (i) room temperature structures at near atomic resolution, (ii) time resolution ranging from microseconds to seconds, and (iii) convenient reaction initiation.


Conformational landscape of a virus by single-particle X-ray scattering

BioXFEL researcher Peter Schwander released a publication, along with his peers, to Nature Methods

Using a manifold-based analysis of experimental diffraction snapshots from an X-ray free electron laser, we determine the three-dimensional structure and conformational landscape of the PR772 virus to a detector-limited resolution of 9 nm. Our results indicate that a single conformational coordinate controls reorganization of the genome, growth of a tubular structure from a portal vertex and release of the genome.


UWM researchers create first 3D movie of virus in action

A research collaboration led by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has for the first time created a three-dimensional movie showing a virus preparing to infect a healthy cell.

The research has the potential to fundamentally advance our understanding of how biological processes inside the cell work. That could lead to better treatment for the horde of human diseases caused by viruses.

The feat was made possible by UWM physicists, who developed a new generation of powerful algorithms to reconstruct sequential images from an ocean of unsorted, noisy data.