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OU research group awarded $9.7 million NIH CoBRE grant in structural biology

A University of Oklahoma research team has been awarded a five-year, $9.7 million National Institutes of Health grant to fund research that can lead to a greater understanding of human diseases and conditions associated with aging, osteoporosis, diabetes, bacterial and parasitic infections. The goal of the NIH grant is to increase the pace, competitiveness and success rate of structural biology research in Oklahoma.

"This is the first NIH CoBRE grant awarded to a research group on OU's Norman campus and the fact that the focus of this grant is on structural biology is significant," said principal investigator Ann West, who is a professor in the OU Department of Chemistry and Microbiology and project director for the grant. "Structural biology lies at the intersection of many different areas of biological sciences and, thus, has the potential of impacting numerous biomedical fields."

The CoBRE grant furthers the research activities and career development of four junior faculty under the direction of senior mentors while at the same time strengthening the OU research infrastructure. It supports the creation of statewide core facilities providing users access to shared instrumentation, staff support and training. And, it encourages the statewide promotion of structural biology through symposia, workshops, a seed grant program and core research facilities.

Previously selected junior facultytwo from the OU Norman campus and two from the OU Health Sciences Center campusmade an early contribution in the outcome of the grant award selection process by writing highly competitive research project proposals. The four junior faculty selected for CoBRE grant funding are Elizabeth A. Karr and Jana K. Shen, OU Norman; Blaine H. Mooers and Augen A Pioszak, OUHSC.

On the OU Norman and OUHSC campuses, a number of research groups utilize a structural approach to study important biological macromolecules, in particular, proteins or nucleic acids that are promising targets for drug design. Because of the multidisciplinary nature of structural biology, the training of students, postdocs and researchers new to the field can be challenging. In addition, the instrumentation required for structural biology is both expensive and sophisticated. The NIH CoBRE award will provide significant resources for investigators at OU and throughout the state to pursue structure-based biomedical studies.

Contact: Jana Smith
University of Oklahoma

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