I am in charge of the the Collaborative Crystallography (CC) program at the Advanced Light Source (ALS). The program aids for a fast, reliable and transparent mail-in crystallographic service for the structural biology community. One of the key features of the CC program is that all the service work is peer reviewed by the scientific community via the ALS general users proposal system. The main benefit of having the service work peer reviewed, is that it allows for a prioritization of proposals on the basis of scientific excellence. The nature of the service work we perform differs from project to project, but can involve all steps from data collection all the way up to validation and submission of the structure to the PDB. Recently, we have been trying to expand our service to include crystallization as well. Users that participate in the CC program agree to include the ALS scientist involved as a coauthor on related manuscripts and on the PDB deposition (more than 200 to date). This program yielded 67 CC-related publications with a total citation count of just over 550, illustrating the productivity and relevance of the program.
Over the last two years, I have worked with more then 20 user groups within the United States. The goal of the CC program is to provide further support to the biological and life sciences community, in particular to those researchers who can benefit from structural information but do not have routine access to equipment and expertise needed to go from pure protein (or gene) to 3D structure. We are currently working on proof-of-principle case studies highlighting the strengths of these expanded services and will pursue opportunities to obtain sustained external funding to continue this effort.