The CBSE has unparalleled capacity in the area of collecting and analyzing X-ray diffraction data for 3-dimensional structure determination. As one of the largest X-ray crystallography units in the world, we provide services for researchers interested in protein structural information that can be used for the discovery and synthesis of complimentary compounds that augment or inhibit the protein's biological activity for drug discovery applications. The CBSE’s expertise in intelligent or structure based combinatorial design has supported drugs used to treat chronic and infectious diseases such as cancer, influenza, bacillus anthracis, bone loss disorders, cardiovascular diseases, bacterial infections, immune response and others.

We are a member of the Southeastern Regional Collaborative Access Team (SERCAT), allowing us dedicated access to two of the most powerful synchrotron beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source facility at the Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago, IL. This means our crystallographers do not have to wait in line for access to the intense X-rays that are necessary for high quality crystallography. By using multiple wavelengths (only available at synchrotrons) we can often determine the structure for a large protein in one week or less with suitable crystals.

The Southeast Regional Collaborative Access Team (SER-CAT) at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) has been in existence since 1997 and provides third generation X-ray source access to the CBSE and other macromolecular crystallographers in the Southeastern US (www.ser-cat.org). SER-CAT contains two beamlines: an Insertion Device beamline 22-ID and a Bending Magnet beamline 22-BM. Both beamlines are equipped with automated fluorescence detectors that allow rapid scans around absorption edges. In addition, frozen crystal samples can be shipped to SER-CAT and diffraction data can be collected by the staff in the “Mail-in Crystallography” program. As a member of SER-CAT, the University of Alabama at Birmingham has at a minimum 18 days of dedicated beam time at SER-CAT each year.

Our computer modeling group provides a central computing network system (with Beowulf Linux cluster) allowing “pipeline” approaches to be used for the automation and acceleration of the structure determination process. A founding member of our computer modeling group developed the Ribbons™ software that is used worldwide to interactively display molecular models, analyze crystallographic data and create publication quality images. This popular molecular graphics software was developed by Dr. Mike Carson.