Creating a protein crystal structure diagram from raw X-ray diffraction data is a labor-intensive task that can take weeks to months. A new program called ELVES
"When humans deal with a complex system with hundreds of things to keep track of, they make mistakes," says James Holton, the creator of the UNIX-compatible program and a beamline scientist at the LBNL. "ELVES goes from the raw data to a finished image."
Implemented as a text script, ELVES uses a "conversational user interface" to create, modify, and process configuration scripts for such commonly used protein crystallography programs as MOSFLM and CCP. The user need not master any arcane programming language or special lexicon, and there are no files to convert.
Users can provide plain language instructions such as 'data in /data/semet/ is from the protein in ~/orf.seq' and 'the beam center is really 93.1 95.0 and there are only 8 sites.' Says Holton: "The real beauty of the program is that it means a biochemist can buy a crystal kit and download this program and do his own structure without needing to get a PhD in crystallography. It democratizes the field."
- Sam Jaffe