Genomic Science Program
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Science | Biological and Environmental Research Program

DOE Scientific User Facilities

Empowering an international community of scientists with the most advanced technologies

Nowhere is the need for integrated research more apparent than in today’s biological sciences. Whether the aim is to increase a bioenergy crop’s yield, understand microbial processes in the environment, or design whole genomic architectures de novo, biology usually cannot be understood without taking a holistic, broad, and multidisciplinary perspective. DOE maintains a range of state-of-the-art facilities that could greatly accelerate this necessary integration by re-imagining access to some of the world’s leading capabilities to study living systems. The Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program strongly encourages collaboration among its user facilities and will continue to engage in crosscutting research efforts that use multiple DOE resources. For example, the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) annually issue joint solicitations specifically tailored to research projects that leverage capabilities at both user facilities. These calls are issued through the Facilities Integrating Collaborations for User Science (FICUS) program, which enables the research community to more easily take advantage of the expertise and capabilities of multiple DOE user facilities. BER will continue this effort and seek additional linkages across the DOE complex and other federal agencies to bring new resources and capabilities together for multidisciplinary science. Investments in DNA synthesis capacity, cryogenic electron microscopy, computational platform development, and enhanced alignment with structural biology and imaging capabilities will likely be important drivers for advancing the next generation of biological sciences.

Overall, BER will seek to:

  • Establish scientific connections among multiple DOE user facilities to enable multidisciplinary users engaged in BSSD research.
  • Align and create joint collaborative efforts among user facilities whose capabilities complement current research efforts within the BER Biological Systems Science Division (BSSD).
  • Create new capabilities at existing BER user facilities and among existing collaborative BSSD research efforts.
  • Develop capabilities for integrating data within and among user facilities and capabilities for BER science.
  • Provide platforms to enable integrated analysis of data generated across BER user facilities and capabilities.

BER-Supported User Facilities and Resources

Joint Genome Institute (JGI)

Sequencing more than 290 trillion DNA bases per year, JGI in Berkeley, California, provides state-of-the-science capabilities for genome sequencing, synthesis, metabolomics, and analysis. With nearly 2,180 users worldwide on active projects, JGI is the preeminent resource for sequencing plants, fungi, algae, microbes, and microbial communities foundational to energy and environmental research. 

Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)

By co-locating more than 150 premier experimental instruments and resources with supercomputing capabilities, DOE EMSL is able to make multiple types of capabilities available to single investigators or multidisciplinary teams to study environmental challenges at the molecular level. DOE EMSL, located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has helped thousands of researchers use a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to iterate between theory and experiment to solve important challenges in biogeochemistry and subsurface science, biological interactions and dynamics, and interactions at the interfaces of natural and engineered materials.

Structural Biology and Imaging Resources

Structural biology and imaging resources—together with today’s systems biology approaches—are key capabilities for understanding the relationship between the genome, structure, function, and environmental interactions of plants and microbes important for energy and environmental missions. As part of its fundamental biology portfolio, BER supports a suite of experimental research technologies, methodologies, instruments, and computational capabilities at DOE facilities. The resolutions and scales provided by these resources enable studying and understanding biological structures and functional processes important to BER-funded investigators and centers.