• What is IMCA?

    IMCA, established in 1990, is the association of pharmaceutical companies committed to the use of macromolecular crystallography as a tool in drug discovery and product development. Through a managing contract with Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, IMCA supports the operation and development of the IMCA-CAT facility at sector 17 of the Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory. The IMCA member companies are: AbbVie, Bristol Myers Squibb, Evotec, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and Relay Therapeutics.
  • What is IMCA-CAT?

    IMCA-CAT is a structural biology research facility for pharmaceutical drug discovery programs. It was established in 1992 to design, build, and operate a research facility at the Advanced Photon Source, a high energy synchrotron X-ray source at Argonne National Laboratory. Today, IMCA-CAT operates a state-of-the-art insertion device beamline for confidential and proprietary macromolecular crystallography experiments. To meet the demands of the pharmaceutical industry, IMCA-CAT is optimized for high-throughput data acquisition, is committed to generating the highest quality X-ray diffraction data, provides reliable access for proprietary research, ensures maximum efficiency, and invests in the facility to remain at the technical forefront for pharmaceutical research in structural biology.
  • Who can use the IMCA-CAT beamline?

    Access to the IMCA-CAT facility is available to all researchers in structural biology to collect X-ray diffraction data on macromolecules.

    Pharmaceutical member companies of IMCA are scheduled for weekly proprietary data collection throughout each operating cycle.

    Non-member companies are invited to collect proprietary data at the beamline via the IMCA-CAT Subscription program. Annual subscriptions for beam time ensure guaranteed, frequent, and rapid access.

    Academic researchers are invited to conduct non-proprietary experiments at the beamline via the APS User Program.

  • Why is IMCA-CAT an important resource for pharma companies?

    Discovery and lead optimization phases of drug development are accelerated with high-throughput data acquisition at IMCA-CAT. Automated sample mounting, diffraction rastering for high-precision sample centering, and shutterless continuous-rotation data collection distinguish IMCA-CAT as an outstanding research environment for confidential and proprietary structural biology programs in the pharmaceutical industry.
  • What types of experiments can be accomplished?

    Structural studies of the most challenging complexes, including membrane proteins, small crystals, and radiation-sensitive samples, benefit from advanced beamline capabilities. Fragment screening high-throughput demands are met with fully automated and fast processes for data acquisition. On-the-fly structural analyses are enabled by high-speed, secure, and encrypted data transfer to off-site locations for integrating with company-based pipelines.
  • What capabilities distinguish IMCA-CAT?

    The IMCA-CAT facility is a state-of-the-art facility for proprietary drug discovery research. Intense focused beam, robotics for sample mounting, diffraction rastering and high-speed precision sample positioning, and shutterless continuous-rotation data collection enable the beamline to meet the throughput demands of the pharmaceutical industry. Experiment design capabilities include wavelength tunability for MAD and SAD experiments, selectable mini beam for optimum beam size, and collect-along-a-vector for overcoming sample degradation. Guaranteed, frequent, and routine access for proprietary data acquisition, whether on-site, remotely, or via mail-in, smoothly integrates with pharmaceutical drug design work flows.
  • How can I use IMCA-CAT?

    Collect data on-site or remotely from your home laboratory, or utilize mail-in service. Pharmaceutical companies interested in conducting proprietary experiments are invited to inquire about the IMCA-CAT Subscription Program. General users interested in conducting non-proprietary experiments should apply via the APS User Program.




IMG 0014
Lisa J Keefe, PhD
Executive Director
IMG 0015 IMG 0026
John Bacik, PhD Erica Duguid, PhD J
Macromolecular Crystallographer Structural Biologist
IMG 0016 Person Silhouette Outline 13
J Lewis Muir Clark Williams
Principal Software Engineer Systems Engineer
IMG 0010 IMG 0012
Andrew Mayton Davis Dunn
Beamline & Automation Engineer Research Eningeer




Located at Argonne National Laboratory in the Chicago suburbs, IMCA-CAT occupies sector 17 of the Advanced Photon Source synchrotron user facility.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

IMCA-CAT @ Argonne National Laboratory,
@ Advanced Photon Source, @ Sector 17

IMCA-CAT is accessed through building 435 on the perimeter of the synchrotron.

Offices and laboratories are in Laboratory and Office Module (LOM) A.




The mission of IMCA-CAT is to accelerate drug discovery

by operating a synchrotron-based structural biology research facility

serving the pharmaceutical industry.

IMCA-CAT aims to accelerate drug discovery research by developing and operating a state-of-the-art, industry-funded structural biology synchrotron beamline optimized for high-throughput macromolecular crystallography serving the pharmaceutical industry.

Pharmaceutical companies, via IMCA membership or IMCA-CAT subscription, benefit from guaranteed, frequent, and routine access to the beamline for X-ray diffraction data collection.

Our professional staff ensure that the IMCA-CAT facility performs to the highest standards for quality, reliability, efficiency, and productivity, while providing outstanding service for data acquisition, comprehensive security for confidentiality and protection of proprietary data, and expert support for challenging experiments.

IMCA-CAT partners with the pharmaceutical industry members of IMCA to drive innovation and sustain cutting-edge operations, thereby distinguishing the beamline as a cost-effective and world-class facility for pharmaceutical research.





IMCA-CAT provides an outstanding research environment that generates the highest quality macromolecular crystallography data from the most challenging protein crystals, while providing the pharmaceutical industry with the best data protection and security for confidential and proprietary structural biology experiments that support industrial drug discovery research.

  • Collect high quality data from small, weakly diffracting crystals by using fully focused beam and selectable mini beam apertures.
  • Solve challenging structures, including membrane proteins and large macromolecular assemblies.
  • Work with highly skilled, experienced, and talented staff.

IMCA-CAT is committed to automating the full spectrum of tasks and decision-making steps of data collection and processing, thereby eliminating the need for manual intervention by the researcher.

  • Accurately center the smallest crystals in auto mode using diffraction rastering.
  • Successfully collect data from radiation-sensitive samples using vector data collection.
  • Integrate with company-based pipelines by downloading your proprietary data on-the-fly with high-speed, secure, and encrypted transfer protocol.

Beamline 17-ID operates continuously, providing frequent, routine, and uninterrupted access for data collection and data processing to meet the demands of the pharmaceutical industry.

  • Positional feedback enables the most stable X-ray mini beam.
  • State-of-the-art equipment for maintaining peak performance and measuring the highest quality data.
  • Security for confidential and proprietary data collection and processing.

At IMCA-CAT, researchers can achieve astonishing data acquisition rates. State-of-the-art equipment is maintained at peak performance to maximize productivity for structure-aided drug discovery programs.

  • The beamline operates at one of the highest throughput rates, with annual yields of more than 20,000 structures solved.
  • Accurately center the smallest crystals using diffraction rastering. Successfully collect data from radiation-sensitive crystals using vector data collection.
  • High-throughput combined with the full-cost-recovery operating model result in the lowest costs per data set for synchrotron-based diffraction data.

The IMCA-CAT facility, maintained at the technical forefront for pharmaceutical structure-based drug discovery, is readily accessible for proprietary research.

  • Rapid access beam time is available within one week of request.
  • Collect data on-site, remotely, or via mail-in service.
  • Guaranteed, frequent, and routine access meets pharma needs for data-on-demand.
  • Customize service to meet your needs.
Click each core value for details.