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Structural Biology

The mission of the Structural Biology section is to provide advanced instrumentation and a collaborative environment required to deliver high-level structural biology to CBT investigators. This includes data derived from nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography and cryogenic electron microscopy (cryoEM).  These technologies offer complementary approaches to understanding protein structure and mechanism of action of disease-causing proteins, as needed to design of molecular agents (e.g., candidate drugs, molecular probes) for study of biological pathways.  The core leadership educates users about the most appropriate the structural biology method(s) to use, which will most efficiently address the users experimental needs.  Prior to data collection, the core leadership advises and facilitates the preparation of samples as needed to obtain the highest quality NMR, X-ray and cryoEM data. In addition to data collection, the SB section facilitates data analyses in partnership with PI’s.  Importantly, users of the SB section make use of these structural biology data via early-stage drug discovery in combination with computer aided drug design (CADD) and structure-based drug discovery methods, including medicinal chemistry (MC).

A collaboration of the CBT with partner institutions at the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) (University of Maryland, College Park and National Institute for Standards and Technology) has established cryo-EM capabilities at the Maryland Center for Advanced Molecular Analysis (M-CAMA), located at IBBR in Rockville. M-CAMA researchers are using cryo-EM structure data to inform the design of small molecule drugs, biotherapeutics, and vaccines, as well as to gain insight into the molecular architecture of large protein complexes and viruses and the dynamic flexibility of biomolecules.

NMR magnet


  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (NMR)
  • X-ray Crystallography
  • CryoEM

The NMR facility is equipped with the following:

  • Avance III HD Ascend 400 MHz, with a SampleCase 24 automatic sample changer (IBBR, Rockville)
  • Avance III 600 MHz, with a TCI cryogenic probe and 19F data collection capability (UMB)
  • Avance 800 MHz, with a TXI cryogenic probe and a BACS 60 automatic sample changer (UMB)
  • Avance III 950 MHz, with a TCI cryogenic probe(UMB)

 The CryoEM facility is equipped with the following:

  • Talos Arctica 200 kV, FEI Falcon3EC detector, installed Spring 2019