Structural Biology

Champion Deivanayagam, Ph.D. – Co-Director

William Placzek, Ph.D. – Co-Director

Contact: (205) 934-5329



The new Structural Biology Shared Facility (SBSF) is the result of a merger of two previously separate Shared Facilities (X-ray Crystallography and Molecular NMR Shared Facilities) into a single facility. This was done in response to feedback from both the previous NCI site visit team as well as the Cancer Center External Advisory Committee and facilitated by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Core Consolidation supplement to the CCSG (3P30 CA013148-389S) completed in 2013. Merging the facilities resulted in: (i) a significantly increased synergy of the research capabilities (i.e., the capabilities of the whole facility is greater than the capabilities of the sum of the individual facilities due to closer interactions among the co-directors and the staff); (ii) a single point of entry for all Cancer Center members in accessing the resources and expertise;  (iii) a significantly more efficient interface with the cancer research projects pursued by CCC members at the Alabama Drug Discovery Alliance (ADDA) and Southern Research (SR); and finally (iv) an increased utilization of the shared facility by the CCC members.

nmr-facility-avance850The newly acquired state-of-the-art research instrumentation capabilities at the shared facility include a Bruker-Biospin Avance III HD 850 MHz NMR spectrometer with a TCI-cryoprobe funded by a UAB CCC supported Shared Instrument Grant (1S10RR022994), a high intensity X-ray system with Pilatus multi-wire and R-axis IV++ detectors, two Fomulatrix crystal imaging systems to support 20o and 4o degree crystallization and imaging, and a powerful optical system that can detect protein crystals less than 1 micron in size (via second order nonlinear imaging of chiral crystals, SONICC). The Formulatrix imaging systems enable any UAB-CCC faculty member (or student) to inspect their crystals remotely using their desktop computers.

The acquisition of the new equipment has paralleled the recruitment of several new junior faculty members to the Cancer Center who specialize in NMR and crystallographic techniques. During the past funding period the Structural Biology Shared Facility has supported center members involved in the Inflammation, Immunology, Immunotherapeutics Program, Cancer Cell Biology Program, Experimental Therapeutics Program, and Cancer Chemoprevention Program. The capabilities of the Structural Biology Shared Facility are publicized to the CCC membership through presentations at the Annual Cancer Center Research Retreat, departmental seminars on campus, educational outreach and through various websites.

The following are the specific aims of the Structural Biology Shared Facility:

  • Maintain and provide access to state-of-the-art X-ray crystallography, NMR, biophysical instrumentation, and computer modeling capabilities (including structure-based virtual screening of chemical compound libraries) for use by the members of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center in their research programs.
  • Provide expertise to the Cancer Center members through service, consultation, education and training in protein crystallization, X-ray structure determination, and high-field NMR applications in structural biology, drug discovery, and cancer metabolomics by NMR.
  • Continue our structure-based approaches to improve compounds being designed and synthesized by UAB and Southern Research medicinal chemists for several cancer-related projects with the goal of producing new compounds appropriate for clinical trials.




Contact Information:

Co-Director: Champion Deivanayagam, Ph.D.
Phone: (205) 934-6026

Co-Director: William Placzek, Ph.D.
Phone: (205) 975-2465