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University of Maryland receives $1.9M from NSF for investigations of biomolecular structure
Date:8/24/2010

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - The University of Maryland has received a $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to acquire a superconducting 800 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer that will help scientists and engineers to solve complex problems in biology and medicine. The instrument will be the highest field NMR spectrometer to be located on the College Park campus and will enable scientists to investigate the three-dimensional structure of biological molecules and study their interactions with a degree of resolution and sensitivity not previously possible.

Kwaku Dayie, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, is the principal investigator on the grant, and will utilize this technology to advance his research on the biophysics of RNAs (ribonucleic acids). RNAs are biological molecules that are critical to life, and that play a role in many diseases for which effective treatments are still sought.

"RNAs do a lot more in cells than we have given them credit for," explains Dayie, who is associated with the university's Center for Biomolecular Structure and Organization (CBSO). "They can speed up chemical reactions by up to 100 billion fold without the need of protein enzymes, and they can regulate gene expression just as proteins can. Being able to map out their 3D architecture using this high field NMR technology means we'll be able to see more clearly how we could target them for drug discovery and delivery."

Two other faculty members of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the CBSO, Professor David Fushman and Assistant Professor Vitali Tugarinov, and one in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Assistant Professor Ganesh Sriram, will be co-principal investigators. Both Fushman and Tugarinov are experts in the study of protein structure and dynamics using NMR methods, and they will now be able decipher interactions between important biological macromolecules that they c
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Contact: Kelly Blake
kellyb@umd.edu
301-405-8203
University of Maryland
Source:Eurekalert

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