Biological Sciences

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October 6, 2014
News Feature
Researchers have discovered that some common messenger molecules in human cells double as hormones when joined to a protein that interacts with DNA.
Image - In this rendering, the structure of the nuclear receptor transcription factor Steroidogenic Factor-1 (SF-1, shown in gray) is bound by the signaling phospholipid referred to as "PIP3" (blue and red). (Raymond Blind/UCSF)
September 22, 2014
News Feature
Experiments at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory solve a long-standing mystery in the role calcium atoms serve in a chemical reaction that releases oxygen into the air we breathe.
Image - This illustration of a model molecular complex mimics the final step in the cycle of photosynthesis: oxygen release.
September 3, 2014
News Feature
Scientists have for the first time mapped the atomic structure of a protein within a living cell. The technique, which peered into cells with an X-ray laser, could allow scientists to explore some components of living cells as never before.
Image - These micrograph images show rod-shaped bacterial cells suspended in pure water. The dark rectangular shapes inside the cells correspond to naturally occurring crystals within the cells.
September 2, 2014
News Feature
A postdoctoral researcher, whose work at SLAC's synchrotron was key in adapting an X-ray technique to probe chemical bonds in new ways, will receive an annual scientific award.
Image - Chris Pollock monitors an experiment at SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. (Courtesy of Chris Pollock)
July 17, 2014
News Feature
In an experiment at SLAC's X-ray laser, scientists split molecules into two fragments using pulses of infrared light, and then used X-ray pulses to observe the transfer of electrons.
Image - In this illustration of a severed methyl iodide molecule, electrons jump the gap from one fragment containing carbon and hydrogen atoms (right) to the other fragment, which contains an iodine atom (left).
June 27, 2014
News Feature
Scientists at SLAC have been blowing up "buckyballs" – soccer-ball-shaped carbon molecules – with an X-ray laser to understand how they fly apart. The results, they say, will help them interpret X-ray images of tiny viruses, individual proteins and other important biomolecules.
Image - Buckyballs, molecules composed of 60 carbon atoms, bust apart as they are struck by intense X-ray pulses at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source. (Greg Stewart/SLAC)
June 23, 2014
Press Release
DNA’s molecular building blocks absorb ultraviolet light so strongly that sunlight should deactivate them – yet it doesn’t. A new SLAC study reveals details of a “relaxation response” that protects these molecules and the genetic information they encode.
Illustration showing a thymine molecule, DNA helix and the sun.
June 12, 2014
News Feature
Even in their infancy, X-ray lasers such as SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source are notching a list of important discoveries, and a special issue of a scientific journal highlights their unique contributions to biological sciences.
Image - This illustration represents data derived from 175,000 X-ray diffraction patterns of Trapanosoma brucei cathepsin B, a protein relevant to African sleeping sickness, measured with X-ray pulses at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source. (CFEL)
May 22, 2014
Press Release
By finding surprising similarities in the way immune system defenders bind to disease-causing invaders, a new study may help scientists develop new treatments.
Conceptual art - see caption
May 15, 2014
News Feature
Researchers have discovered that an Ebola virus protein can transform into three distinct structures with different functions. This rather uncommon property provides new clues for the development of potential drugs for deadly hemorrhagic fever.
Illustration - Ebola virus transformations