The High-Throughput Crystallization Screening Center

The Crystallization Center supports industry, academic, government, and non-profit research institutes, providing unique protein crystallization services for structural biology. Our methods have generated lead crystallization conditions for approximately half of all samples submitted and provided solubility phase information across 1,536 different chemical conditions – information that can guide optimization and troubleshoot recalcitrant systems. Since it began operations in February 2000, the Crystallization Center has set up over 25 million crystallization experiments on more than 18,000 biological macromolecules for almost 2,000 laboratories worldwide. Macromolecular crystallization services at HWI enable experiments that are monitored with state-of-the-art imaging techniques, empowering the detection of crystals that other techniques miss. Our academic, government, and non-profit services are subsidized by NIH and NSF support.

Crystallization Screening at HWI provides:

  • Expert staff – Dr. Sarah Bowman has been Director of the HTX Center for over three years and works with scientific staff that have been operating the Center for close to two decades.
  • State-of-the-art instrumentation – Brightfield (visual), second-order harmonic, and UV-two photon excited fluorescence techniques in a Rock Imager 1000 with SONICC are used, so no crystal is missed.
  • Timely access – Runs are scheduled in advance on a monthly basis with multiple setup windows.
  • A history of success – The Center has worked with academic, non-profit, government and industry users, and has screened over 18,000 proteins for close to 2,000 laboratories worldwide.
  • Confidentiality – Information will not be publicly disclosed regarding any sample received for crystallization trials without the express written consent of the investigator(s).

Information for Upcoming Crystallization Screening

Deadlines and Dates

Updated 4/19/2021

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the HWI Crystallization Center is active and able to support your scientific efforts, both on COVID-19 related projects and the crystallization of other targets.  The month of May will have one soluble run and one membrane run!

May 2021 Membrane

  • Reservation Deadline: Friday May 7th
  • Package Acceptance & Plate Setup: Tues May 11th – Thurs May 13th

May 2021 Soluble

  • Reservation Deadline: Friday May 14th
  • Package Acceptance: Tues May 18th – Thurs May 27th
  • Plate Setup:
    • Tues May 18th – Thurs May 20th
    • Mon May 24th – Thurs May 27th

Note: Samples are not set up on Fridays.

How It Works

Check the run schedule and reserve a spot in the queue for an upcoming high-throughput crystallization screening run (see the buttons above). 

1,536 non-redundant crystallization conditions are used to screen your sample using the microbatch-under-oil method, providing an efficient sampling of chemical parameter space.  Each condition is imaged using state-of-the-art Formulatrix Rock Imagers over a period of six weeks. Imaging modalities include visual (brightfield) and Second-Order Non-linear Imaging of Chiral Crystals (SONICC), which includes Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) and UV-Two Photon Excited Fluorescence (UV-TPEF) imaging. SHG and UV-TPEF imaging can identify biological crystals not picked up visually or those obscured by precipitate. Brightfield, SHG, and UV-TPEF images are integrated with analysis software provided as part of the crystallization screening service.

Citing the Crystallization Center

NIH and NSF funding enables us to provide efficient high-throughput crystallization screening to academic, non-profit and government laboratories at a reduced rate.

For non-SARS-CoV-2 samples, we request that our current NIH grant is acknowledged in any publications. We suggest the following language: Crystallization screening at the HTX Center at HWI was supported through NIH grant R24GM124135.

For SARS-CoV-2 samples, we currently have NSF RAPID funding. If making use of this funding resource, we request that the NSF grant is acknowledged in any publications. We suggest the following language: Crystallization screening at the HTX Center at HWI was supported through NSF grant 2029943.

Additionally, it would be helpful if the experimental methods references the Crystallization Center using this reference:  Luft, J. R., et al. (2003). A deliberate approach to screening for initial crystallization conditions of biological macromolecules. J. Struct. Biol. 142, 170-179.  This will help us to secure future funding for the Crystallization Center.

The Crystallization Center Produces Results

Publications Citing the Crystallization Center

Crystallization Center Staff

Dr. Sarah EJ Bowman: Director

Dr. Bowman has been working in structural biology for over 15 years. She did her PhD research at University of Rochester in the Bren Lab. She then moved to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for postdoctoral research in the Drennan and Stultz Groups (supported by an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA fellowship), followed by a second postdoctoral appointment at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She joined HWI in July 2017.

Angela Lauricella: Research Technician (18+ years)

Stephen Potter: Director of Information Technology (20+ years)

Nate Michals: System Administrator

HWI Co-Investigators:

Dr. Edward Snell, Dr. Miranda Lynch

External Collaborators:

Dr. Lisa Keefe, Dr. Aina Cohen

Celebrating Crystal Imaging April 2021!

This month we are featuring our new crystal hunting software – MARCO Polo!  Explore your crystallization parameter space with MARCO Polo!  It implements the MAchine Recognition of Crystallization Outcomes (MARCO) and interfaces directly with our high-throughput 1,536 crystallization screening images and metadata from the Crystallization Center.

Great work by NSF BioXFEL STC summer research intern Ethan Holleman, who started on this idea while interning at IMCA-CAT at APS with Lisa Keefe and Erica Duguid, and created the GUI during the summer of 2020 working with Sarah Bowman.  The Polo paper is out!  Holleman, ET, et al. (2021) Polo: an open-source graphical user interface for crystallization screening. J. Appl. Cryst. 54, 673-679.

MARCO Polo is open-source and on GitHub!  Available for download:

Supported by NSF BioXFEL STC Grant Number 1231306, NSF BIO 2029943, NIH R24 GM124135

User Announcements

MARCO Polo Image Viewing GUI

We are excited to announce that the new GUI for automated crystal hit scoring is available to users!  MARCO Polo currently works with the high-throughput 1,536 screening metadata and images from the Crystallization Center.  It is open-source and we would love to collaborate on making MARCO more available to crystallographers everywhere!

MacroscopeJ & macOS Upgrades

The new version of MacroscopeJ is compatible with Catalina macOS and is in your ftp folder when you transfer images – please let us know if you have any issues!

Please note that macOS 11.0 ‘Big Sur’ is due out this year, and will have entirely new hardware architecture. We recommend that users hold off on upgrading to macOS 11.0 immediately so that we can update our software accordingly.

Accessing your images via the ftp server

Because of recent changes for both Mac and Windows OS, we recommend using FileZilla to access and transfer imagers from the ftop servers, as it works across platforms.

For more details: Analyze Your Results

Physical address

High-Throughput Crystallization Screening Center
Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute
700 Ellicott Street
Buffalo, NY 14203


General Inquiries:

Crystallization Center Director (Dr. Sarah EJ Bowman):
Follow us on Twitter: @getacrystal