National High-Throughput Crystallization Center

The HWI Crystallization Center has been awarded NIH NIGMS funding to become a National Resource for crystallography.  As the National High-Throughput Crystallization Center, we support academic, government, and non-profit research institutes and industry, 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 directing the Center since being recruited to HWI in 2017 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 08/05/2022

The HWI National High-Throughput Crystallization Center is active and able to support your crystallization efforts.   We are happy to announce a 3 week soluble protein run in August.  Happy Crystallizing!

August 2022 Soluble (taking reservations)

  • Reservation Deadline: Fri Aug 12th
  • Package Acceptance: Tues Aug 16th to Thurs Sept 1st
  • Plate Setup:
    • Tues Aug 16th – Thurs Aug 18th
    • Mon Aug 22nd – Thurs Aug 25th
    • Mon Aug 29th – Thurs Sept 1st  

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.  Click here to access the current crystallization cocktail lists.

Reminder to Acknowledge the National High-Throughput Crystallization Center and Funding Agencies

We are grateful that NIH and NSF funding enables us to provide efficient high-throughput crystallization screening to academic, non-profit and government laboratories at a reduced rate. Please remember to cite the appropriate grant funding for your crystallization screening experiments.

  • For non-SARS-CoV-2 samples, we request that the NIH R24 National Resource grant is acknowledged in any publications. Please note that with the new funding, the NIH grant number is now R24GM141256. We suggest the following language: Crystallization screening at the National Crystallization Center at HWI was supported through NIH grant R24GM141256.
  • For SARS-CoV-2 samples,  NSF RAPID funding was available for users through April 2022. If your lab made 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 National Crystallization Center at HWI was supported through NSF grant 2029943 and NIH grant R24GM141256.

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

For the membrane screen, please cite this reference: Koszelak‐Rosenblum, M., et al. (2009). Determination and application of empirically derived detergent phase boundaries to effectively crystallize membrane proteins. Protein Science, 18(9), 1828-1839.

These citations help us to track publications and PDB depositions, an important metric of productivity that will help secure future funding for the Crystallization Center.

The Crystallization Center Produces Results

Publications Citing the Crystallization Center

National Crystallization Center Team

Dr. Sarah EJ Bowman

Dr. Sarah EJ Bowman: Director

Dr. Bowman has been working in structural biology for over 15 years. She completed 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 the Crystallization Center at HWI in July 2017.

Elizabeth Snell

In the Lab:

Elizabeth Snell:

Research Associate at the Crystallization Center with 15+ years of experience


Computational Support:

Stephen Potter: Director of Information Technology

Nate Michals: Systems Administrator

HWI Co-Investigators:

Dr. Miranda L Lynch

Dr. Eddie Snell

Crystals of the Month March 2022!

Excited to feature a recent publication by HTX Center users in the Izard Lab at Scripps as Crystals of the Month! 

We used over 1000 commercially available crystallization screens … to attempt to grow … crystals but our efforts were unsuccessful. Thus, we resorted to the high-throughput crystallization screening facility at the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute. Out of the 1536 crystallization conditions that were screened, crystals appeared from 500 mM imidazole (pH 6.5) and 15% (w/v) polyethylene glycol 3350 using the micro batch-under-oil method. We adapted this condition from the micro batch-under-oil method for hanging drop vapor diffusion … to grow crystals that diffracted X-ray beyond 1.6 Å Bragg spacings.

Check out the paper:

COVID Information Commons Talk

Recent talk by Center Director Dr. Bowman at COVID Information Commons about the NSF RAPID funded work we are doing in the National High-Throughput Crystallization Center!

Check it out on YouTube!

User Announcements

Shipping Reminders (July 2022)

We’ve been observing a lot of delays from FedEx shipping, so wanted to post some reminders about shipping samples (especially during the heat of summer!).

1) Send the protein in a clearly labeled 1.5 ml eppendorf tube placed inside of a protective container (such as a Falcon tube).
2) For shipping, we make the following recommendations:

        •      Ship on Monday-Wednesday to reduce the risk of a weekend delivery delay.
        •      Use an insulated Styrofoam shipping container.
        •      Use dry ice for frozen samples.
        •      Use gel packs to maintain 4°C or 23°C sample temperatures.
        •      Send the tracking number to

Given the delays we’ve been seeing, we are also encouraging you to make sure that your sample has enough ice or dry ice to last for 2+ days.  Also, we’ve noticed that shipping via FedEx Priority Overnight (as opposed to Standard Overnight) has a better chance of getting the samples to us by the next day.

Please keep an eye on the tracking information on your end, as well, as sometimes a phone call to FedEx from the sender can expedite sample delivery.

We are hiring! (August 2022)

We are hiring for one position! 

The current open position is for a lab technician position.The technician will use state-of-the-art crystallography liquid handlers and imagers for crystal growth projects for HTX Center users  Click here for details.

Updates to Email Announcement List (June 2022)

We have updated our email user list server.  If you are not receiving emails, please reach out to check to make sure you are on the updated server. Stay tuned for details about signing up for the list.

MARCO Polo & macOS Upgrades  (June 2022)

Please note that we are still testing new macOS options for MARCO Polo for Monterey MacOS with the M1 chips.  Both image viewing software GUIs work with macOS Catalina, Big Sur, and Monterey with Intel chips, but if you are having trouble with installation, let us know – we can walk through troubleshooting with solutions we’ve found work.

MARCO Polo Image Viewing GUI (April 2021)

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!

Open-source and on GitHub – available to download:

MARCO Polo 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.

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

Physical address

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


General Inquiries:

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