Professor Sylvie Roke awarded ERC PoC Grant

© 2020 EPFL

© 2020 EPFL

Sylvie Roke from the EPFL School of Engineering, has been awarded a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept (PoC) Grant.

Sylvie Roke director of the Laboratory for fundamental BioPhotonics (LBP), affiliated to the Institute of Bioengineering, received the grant for her project called “Fail FAST : Accelerate your crystallization process by Finding and Assessing proteIn nano-crystaLs”. ERC PoC grants provide €150,000 over 18 months for researchers to further investigate the commercial or societal potential of their projects.

The emerging technology will be brought to the market by Oryl Photonics, a spin-off that is currently being incubated by Orly Tarun, photonics thesis prize, enable, innogrant, and SNSF Bridge grants recipient.

High-resolution protein structures obtained by X-ray diffraction require the production of well-ordered proteins crystals of high quality. However, to produce well-ordered protein crystals, several bottlenecks must be addressed to screen and optimize the thousands of conditions that can lead to crystallization. In this project, we will accelerate the process of protein crystallization by detecting early, i.e., assessing nano-crystal formation and providing immediate feedback, instead of waiting for crystals to grow, thereby saving time and money. We will use nonlinear light scattering that is highly sensitive to crystal formation. In combination with machine learning analysis, we will develop optimization routines to predict the conditions that likely lead to crystallization in a very short time scale, hours, instead of weeks.