From the Director
Joel Brock
Although New York state has been “paused” since the middle of March, there’s a lot going on here at CHESS.

Cornell University approved CHESS’ application to resume operation of the synchrotron facility for COVID19 research and we’re in the process of re-starting the accelerator complex. Due to social distancing requirements, start-up will take about twice the usual amount of time but currently we are well on track to allow COVID-19 related experiments to start in early June. The specific proposal that has been approved by Cornell is to support room-temperature serial crystallography to better understand the binding of drugs with varying potency but identical structures if measured at cryogenic temperatures. The end goal being understanding the structure-function relationship and enable rational drug design.

CHEXS sponsored a virtual workshop held by Chris Pollock and Louise Debefve on “X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy and EXAFS” for our PREM collaborators and students at the University of Puerto Rico. The workshop consisted of three day-long sessions and was attended by 25 distance learners.

The CHESS Users Meeting this year will take place June 9/10 and will be fully virtual. Components of the meeting include: the plenary session, a poster session, an after dinner talk, and three workshops. All of these events will be accessible online. Please take a moment to register so that we can send you the Zoom link to access the meeting sessions. As every year, we will recognize the best publication by a student published during the past year with an invited presentation in the plenary session of the users meeting. Similarly, the best posters (one technical and one scientific) presented in the virtual poster session will receive an award.

Research conducted at CHEXS and CHESS is featured in two science highlights this month, both employing Small Angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to visualize disordered RNA and to characterize crystallization-driven self-assembly of block copolymers.

While our current circumstances are far from normal, New York state is beginning to re-open via a series of phases and we look forward to being able to offer correspondingly increasing level of service as conditions evolve. Our community will continue to utilize creativity and hard work to keep CHESS moving forward.

Thank you all and stay well.

Joel Brock,
Director, CHESS
After almost two months, CHESS will partially restart operations in June to conduct research related to treatment of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
These results fundamentally explain structural and functional differences between DNA and RNA that support their divergent biological roles.
Due to the travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire workshop was conducted virtually using Zoom. Over three days, the workshop consisted of both didactic lectures and hands-on tutorials.
The CHESS users' meeting will take place June 9/10. Click through for registration.

Polymers that can self-assemble into a variety of nanostructures in solution are useful in many biomedical applications such as drug delivery.
As CHESS staff work from home during the shutdown, we're catching up with how that's going for them. Louise Debefve is a Postoctoral Associate at CHESS.

Issue No. 72 2020.5.15