APS User News-at-a-Glance
Issue 22: October 9, 2003

1. Message from Murray
Research Highlight-- Crystal Structure of SARS Coronavirus Protease Determined at APS
Call for 2002 Activity Reports; 2002 Annual Report Available
Users Identify Priorities in Survey
General User Proposal Deadline November 7
APS Debuts Outreach Effort
Briefly Noted (employment bulletin board, new lounge open)

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1. Message from Murray
(Contact: Murray Gibson,

On September 17-19, we hosted a review of the APS by a University of Chicago committee. As the contractor for Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago holds periodic reviews of programs at Argonne. These are complementary to reviews from funding agencies, especially the Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, in the case of APS. Dr. Yves Petroff, former Director General of the European Synchrotron Research Facility, led an outstanding committee (http://www.aps.anl.gov/conferences/UC_Review_2003/UC_Review_Roster.htm), which reviewed the entire APS. The main session of the review, on Thursday, September 18, was open to the public. Although we do not yet have the final report from the review committee, we were very satisfied with the initial oral feedback. We will provide more information once the review committee's report has been completed.

The General User Program has been running for one year now, and we have received more than 1000 beam time requests. About 6 in 10 of these requests received beam time. We believe that the new centralized program is making it easier for outsiders to access the APS and also taking some burden of administration and review from the CATs. While we are very pleased with the success of the program, we recognize the need to focus on improvement. If you have any comments please send them to one of the members of the General User Program Advisory Committee: Dennis Mills (APS, chair), Thomas Gog (CMC-CAT), Lisa Keefe (IMCA-CAT), and Stephen Durbin (APS User Organization Chair).

I am delighted to announce that Dr. Gabrielle Long, currently of the National Institute for Standards and Technology, will join the APS as the leader our X-Ray Operations and Research (XOR) effort, as an Associate Division Director in the Experimental Facilities Division. X-Ray Operations and Research encompasses all of the beamline research and operations at the APS. XOR already embraces six full sectors and partial support for 3 others, and we anticipate that it will grow significantly in future. Gabrielle is an outstanding scientist respected for her work by the materials science and synchrotron community, and her leadership will help guide the facility in the future.

2. Research Highlight: Crystal Structure of SARS Coronavirus Protease Determined at APS
(Contact: Rick Fenner,

Structural GenomiX, Inc. (SGX) has completed the three-dimensional crystal structure of the main protease from the Coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The determination was achieved through use of the SGX proprietary high-throughput gene-to-structure platform and the company's x-ray data collection facility at sector 31 at the APS.

Recognizing the serious public health issue posed by SARS, SGX has made the crystal structure available to the research community by depositing it with the Protein Data Bank (http://www.rcsb.org) and is exploring collaborative opportunities to accelerate development of a treatment for the virus.

The SARS main protease is widely believed to be the primary target for inhibitory antiviral agents, and the experimental determination of its crystal structure represents a major step forward in the discovery of new drugs to combat the virus. The highly accurate structure provided by x-ray diffraction data will help drug researchers see precisely how inhibitors interact with the virus in three dimensions.

SGX, a San Diego, California-based, structure-guided drug discovery company, determined the high-resolution (1.86 Å) crystal structure of the protease in a little over a month after receiving cDNA clones from the Genome Institute of Singapore.

3. Call for 2002 Activity Reports; New Annual Report Available
(Contact: Rick Fenner, fenner@aps.anl.gov)

If you conducted work at the APS between January 1, 2002, and December 31, 2002, please submit a brief activity report to the APS by November 17, 2003. The yearly collection of APS activity reports is a critical document. These brief write-ups by our users are one of the ways we publicize APS science to the international synchrotron x-ray community, the federal government, other funding agencies, and the public. They also fulfill our annual obligation to keep the Department of Energy apprised of the return on taxpayer investment in the APS, and they are often the only venue for reports of results from our industrial users.

Detailed instructions are located at http://www.aps.anl.gov/aps/activity_reports/ar01callpage.html. Previous APS activity reports are publicly searchable via the APS web site. Previous APS activity reports are publicly searchable via the APS web site at http://www.aps.anl.gov/aps/activity_reports/webars.html

APS Science 2002 -- The Annual Report of the Advanced Photon Source (ANL-03/15) is now available in .pdf format on a CD. The CD is enclosed in a plastic case that can be clipped into a 3-ring binder. To request one or more copies, send an email to apsinfo@aps.anl.gov. Printed copies of this year's annual report (as well as the latest CD compendium of activity reports) are also available via requests to apsinfo@aps.anl.gov.

4. Users Identify Priorities in Survey
(Contact: Susan Strasser, strasser@aps.anl.gov)

Earlier this year, we invited the APS user community to complete a web-based survey about operating modes and operational enhancements. We wanted to get a sense of users' priorities in these areas, so they can be considered in planning for future development of the facility. Users were also invited to provide additional comments, and where particular issues have been noted by multiple individuals, the APS will respond to those comments.

On the issue of the conflicting concerns of upgrades, maintenance, and delivering beam, 52% of users indicated that their first priority is increased reliability (i.e., <1 fault/33 hours), followed by 36% who favor increased user beam hours (i.e., >5000 hours).

The APS currently provides 1-2 weeks of beam per run in special operating mode, with various filling patterns to meet the needs of users who perform timing experiments. About 4% of respondents said that most or almost all of their experiments depend on this mode, with another 10% indicating that they make some use of it. Of the other respondents, 67% said they do not use this mode, and 19% had no comment.

Users responded positively to the introduction of top-up mode: 61% said they were "very satisfied" with the effect of this change on their work and 23% were "satisfied." Less than 1% expressed dissatisfaction and 16% had no comment or had not used this mode. In parallel with this level of satisfaction, 48% of the respondents said they would like to see more user time run in top-up mode, while 21% said the current percentage (75%) should be maintained. Slightly more than 1% would prefer less top-up time.

About 350 users responded to the survey. The majority were General Users (61%), with most of the remaining respondents being members of Collaborative Access Teams (28%). By field of research, respondents were about equally split between biological/life sciences (40%) and physical sciences in the areas of condensed matter, materials science, and chemical sciences (42%). In addition, 13% were from physical sciences in the areas of geological, soil, and environmental science.

5. General User Proposal Deadline November 7
(Contact: Jane Andrew,

General users who wish to work at the APS in the first run of 2004 must submit a request for time by November 7. Requests should specify scheduling period 2004-1 (run starts January 19 and ends April 19).

The proposal system is located at http://beam.aps.anl.gov/pls/apsweb/gup0005.start_page (please update bookmarks: URL changed in May 2003). At this time, no major changes in the proposal entry process or interface are planned for this cycle.

If you have an "Individual" proposal, please note these two points.

(1) Once you receive time on an Individual proposal, you must submit a new proposal to request more time.

(2) Individual proposals that were initially submitted for Run 2003-1 have now expired (they have a maximum lifetime of three cycles). To quickly create a new proposal from an existing one, use the Copy Proposal button on the first screen of the existing proposal.

6. APS Debuts Outreach Effort
(Contact: Jane Andrew, jandrew@aps.anl.gov)

At the APS, we depend heavily on email for communication with far-flung users. But, handy though email is, nothing beats a face-to-face chat. That's why we've decided to pursue a new way of connecting with current and potential users: representatives of the APS will be attending major conferences as exhibitors. Our debut exhibit, co-sponsored by the User Office and several of the life sciences collaborative access teams, was at the annual meeting of the American Crystallographic Association, held in July in Covington, Kentucky. Several hundred attendees stopped by to get goodies, check out the new proposal system, and chat with beamline scientists and User Office staff. At least one person left with concrete plans for a new experiment!

Our next venue will be the Materials Research Society Fall 2004 meeting in Boston, December 1-5. If you're at the meeting, please stop by!

7. Briefly Noted

Employment Bulletin Board Available
(Contact: Linda Carlson,

To assist both potential employees and employers, the APS Users Organization offers an employment registry and bulletin board. Scientists and engineers interested in employment at the APS may submit their resumes, which are kept on file in the User Office and provided to interested beamlines upon request. The employment bulletin board includes positions both at the APS and elsewhere.

As of October 1, there are listings for staff scientists (7), postdoctoral positions (9), beamline scientists (5), beamline technicians and computer support (6). The listings include five senior staff positions with the Consortium for the Construction and Exploitation of a Synchrotron Light Source (CELLS) in Barcelona.

The APSUO employment information is available in the on the APS web site under User Info/Committees/APS Users Organization, or directly at http://www.aps.anl.gov/user/committees/apsuo/employment/opp.html

New Lounge Open at Building 617

When you need a break and it happens to be a Thursday evening, you now have a new option on site at Argonne. At the newly refurbished lounge in the lower level of Building 617 (formerly the Exchange Club) you can have a soda, a beer, or something stronger; munch on bar snacks; play pool; relax in the comfortable seating area--or all of the above. The lounge is open Thursday evenings from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Administrative Dates and Deadlines

A full listing of technical meetings and workshops is available on the APS home page (http://aps.anl.gov) under the heading Meetings, Etc.

November 7, 2003


General User proposal deadline for time in Run 2004-1

November 20, 2003

APS/users operations monthly meeting

November 21, 2003

General User Proposal Review Panel meetings

December 5, 2003

General User Beamtime Allocation Committee meetings

December 16, 2003

APS/users operations monthly meeting

December 21, 2003

End of Run 2003-3

January 15, 2004

APS User Organization Steering Committee meeting

January 16, 2004

Partner User Council meeting

January 19, 2004

Start of Run 2004-1

January 20-22, 2004

Scientific Advisory Committee meeting

May 3-6, 2004

APS User Meeting

August 2004

Sixth National School on Neutron and X-ray Scattering