For Immediate Release
August 11, 2010
Contacts: Kelly Blake, 301-405-9418 or email@example.com
UM Partnership Receives $7.9 Million NIH Grant for Superconducting Research Magnet
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland, in partnership with the University of Maryland, Baltimore and University of Maryland Baltimore County, has received a $7.9 million federal grant to acquire a superconducting 950 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) magnet from Bruker BioSpin that will help researchers unravel the mysteries of molecules and develop new agents to treat cancer, AIDS and other diseases.
The grant is among the largest of its kind ever awarded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), which is part of the National Institutes of Health. The funds were made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The instrument - scheduled to be installed in November, 2011 at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore - will be shared equally among the three campuses and used by researchers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Only one other site in the United States currently has a 950 MHz NMR spectrometer, and the University of Maryland partnership will be the only academic institutions in the county to have this powerful technology.
David Fushman, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Maryland, is a co-director of the grant, and will lead the College Park team that includes several biochemists and cell biologists whose research will be enhanced by the new NMR spectrometer.
"This 950 Mhz NMR is optimal for studying large molecules," explains Fushman, an expert in protein structure and dynamics who is associated with the university's Center for Biomolecular Structure and Organization (CBSO). "This will allow us to move into studying larger protein complexes that include more than 1000 amino acids. We can begin to decipher interactions between proteins that we could not easily do before."
Fushman conducts biochemical and biophysical studies to understand the molecular basis of how proteins are marked for degradation by a signaling protein called ubiquitin. Once a protein is tagged by ubiquitin chains, it is then disposed of by a multimolecular complex called the proteasome. "The proteasome is like a big shredder which grinds up proteins that are no longer needed or which have become misfolded or degraded," says Fushman. "It controls the cell life cycle, and we know that if it isn't functioning properly, it could lead to the development of cancer, or neurological diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, or Huntington's, or problems with the immune response."
Kwaku Dayie, associate professor, and Vitali Tugarinov, assistant professor, both in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and members of CBSO, will also be key users of the new technology. Both have been leaders in the development of NMR methods that allow and facilitate studies of large macromolecules. Jonathan Dinman and Anne Simon, both professors of cell biology and molecular genetics and experts in the study of viruses, will also utilize the spectrometer to advance their research
"The capabilities of this ultra high field/high frequency NMR will create unique opportunities for life sciences researchers in Maryland," says Norma Allewell, vice president for research and professor of cell biology and molecular genetics at the University of Maryland. "The extraordinary resolution of the results that can be generated with this new instrument will provide unparalleled insights into the structure, dynamics, and function of the proteins and nucleic acids that are critical to life, and that also play a role in many diseases for which effective treatments are still sought. The University of Maryland has recruited a team of NMR experts and users that are fully prepared to exploit the unique capabilities of this new resource to gain new insights into cellular function, to develop new approaches to treating some of society's most challenging diseases, and to work with the biotech community to translate these discoveries into new therapies."
This 950 MHz NMR spectrometer will enable University of Maryland researchers to delve deeper into the molecular mechanisms of proteins and nucleic acids in the body and to provide the much needed fundamental information from which drug therapies and other medical treatments can be based. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine will utilize the technology in many areas of cancer research, including drug development, while UMBC researchers will focus on AIDS research.
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