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Sketches of Laboratories

University of Queensland

Brisbane, Australia

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University of Queensland - October 1996

Small Molecule X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory is housed on the sixth floor of the Department of Chemistry, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia. It was started in 1964 with an underground laboratory under the Great Court of the University. It has progressed to a typical modern laboratory with three generators, one still using valves.

The main equipment is an Enraf- Nonius CAD4 kappa diffractometer with a sealed tube, and graphite monochromator. There is a low temperature device which can control data collection from -100 to 100C. Other pieces of equipment include Weissenberg and Precession Cameras, Philips and Nonius Powder cameras. Powder data are collected on the latter and processed on a homemade densitometer (the old Stoe diffractometer from Mike Snow's Laboratory). In the corner and not being used is the first diffractometer that was purchased by Hans Freeman, an old Supper two circle diffractometer. The usual computer equipment and software is housed in a number of surrounding rooms.

These days most work is of a service nature to chemists within the Department and at the Centre for Drug Design and Development, Griffith University (Colin Raston), Queensland University of Queensland (Graham Smith), Central Queensland University and geologists at the James Cook University of North Queensland. Local work is centred around taking fibre photographs of spider silk, working on the structures of pesticides and herbicides, and related compounds.

A project involving the synchrotron is being developed in conjunction with Ian Gentle and Geoff Barnes of this University. It is to understand the structure of monolayers formed in a Langmuir balance or Langmuir-Blodgett films. So far data have been collected on beam line 16 at the Photon Factory in Tsukuba using grazing incidence diffraction. In the past, data were also collected on large crystals at 2 tan B, ANSTO neutron facility. Karl Byriel is the person responsible for the day to day running of the diffractometer with Colin Kennard in overall charge of the laboratory.

The newest addition to protein crystallography in Australia is the Protein Crystallography Laboratory within the Centre for Drug Design and Development (or 3D Centre) at the University of Queensland. This is the first protein crystallography laboratory in Queensland and was jointly funded by the Department of Primary Industry (DPI, Queensland), the Australian Research Council, the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and Biosym Technologies. It is situated on Level 1 of the Gehrmann Laboratories and forms, with the Protein NMR Laboratory, the 3D Centre Biomolecular Structure Facility which was officially opened by Simon Crean on July 29, 1994.

The laboratory is equipped with an RU-200 rotating anode X-ray generator, RAXIS-IIC imaging plate area detector and Huber 205 precession camera. A mirror system will be installed in the near future to improve the X-ray intensity and a cryo-cooling system is currently being commissioned. A graphics room houses an SGI Indigo and Indy - used for electron density fitting, model building and structure refinement - and a wet laboratory and cold room are used for protein preparation, purification and crystallisation. Jenny Martin is the principal investigator and Wasa Wickramasinghe and Shuhong Hu are research officers in the Protein Crystallography Laboratory. The protein structure research that is undertaken within the laboratory includes team projects from the 3D Centre as well as collaborative work with groups in other departments of Queensland University, and with other tertiary institutes and research organisations, including the DPI. In addition, international collaborative projects have been set up with research groups in the US, Germany and Switzerland.

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Please feel free to send any queries, comments or suggestions to: bws@crystal.uwa.edu.au