Category: Grants & Funding
Professor Karen Allen is leading the HAD Bridge Project of the NIH U54 award to the University of Illinois entitled “Collaborative Center for an Enzyme Function Initiative,” ($25 million over 4 years, John Gerlt, PI). Known as “GLUE Grants,” these prestigious awards provide resources to currently funded scientists to form research teams to tackle complex biomedical problems that are beyond the means of any one research group. This consortium will facilitate the discovery of in vitro enzymatic and in vivo metabolic/physiological functions of unknown enzymes discovered in genome projects. The consortium is organized around five Bridging Projects and seven Cores. Professor Allen and her collaborator, Professor Debra Dunaway-Mariano, University of New Mexico, were invited to lead the HAD Bridge Project based on their 15 years of investigations on the chemical and catalytic mechanisms of the phosphotransferases in the haloalkanoic acid dehalogenase (HAD) superfamily of proteins (“Mechanism and Function in HAD Phosphotransferases,” NIH R01 GM061099. Their work has successfully uncovered and confirmed the structural determinants of substrate specificity in all three subfamilies of the superfamily and are using this knowledge to predict the substrates for enzymes of unknown function, identifying the associated metabolic pathways of at least six members from various bacterial species. The HAD efforts will be greatly extended, enhanced, and enabled by the other Cores and Bridging Projects of the consortium, including the Protein Core, the EN and AH Bridges, Sequence/Genome Analysis Core, Microbiology Core, Computation Core, and the Structure Core. In turn, the HAD Bridge Project, will afford comprehensive kinetic and mechanistic expertise to provide test cases for and utilize the facilities and expertise of the Cores.
Professor John Porco and his group have received a 4-year, $1.6 million award (2010 to 2014) to develop and refine biomimetic syntheses using copper-mediated enantioselective oxidation processes; photochemical cycloaddition employing excited state intramolecular proton transfer (ESIPT); and asymmetric reactions of acylphloroglucinols. Professor Porco and colleagues are applying these methodologies to synthesize complex natural products, including bisorbicillinol, sorbicillactone A, aglaiastatin, ponapensin, and myrtucommulones A and B. Collaborating with the Porco Group is Prof. Linda Doerrer who is performing mechanistic investigations to understand copper-mediated enantioselective oxygenase and oxidase processes and also develops catalytic, asymmetric oxidation processes. Likewise, a continuing collaboration with Professor Eric N. Jacobsen and coworkers (Harvard University) seeks to identify chiral thiourea photocatalysts for asymmetric photocycloadditions. More
Professor Tom Tullius has received a 2009 Senior Scholar Award in Aging” from the nonprofit Ellison Medical Foundation. The Foundation supports basic biomedical research on aging relevant to understanding lifespan development processes and age-related diseases and disabilities. The Ellison award supports a new project in the Tullius lab on genome damage and aging, particularly the development of whole-genome maps of oxidative DNA lesions at single-nucleotide resolution. Genome damage caused by reactive oxygen species has long been thought to be associated with aging and neurodegeneration. Using next-generation DNA sequencing methods and bioinformatic tools, the Tullius group will relate the damage map to the underlying genes and functional regions of the genome. The research will obtain unique new information on how oxidative damage affects the genome and thereby contributes to aging.
Reinhard Group Receives NIH Award to Probe Underlying Mechanisms of the Abnormal Behavior of EGFR in Cancer Cells
Professor Bjoern Reinhard and his group have received an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health, “Illuminating Dynamic Receptor Clustering in the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Signal Transduction Pathway Using Plasmon Coupling.” The goal of their research is to use near-field interactions between individual nanoparticle labels to probe the underlying mechanisms of the abnormal behavior of epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) in cancerous cells. Because growth factors are overexpressed in many cancers, a molecular understanding of the EGFR activation mechanism will provide new opportunities for early cancer diagnosis and lead the way to developing efficient anti-cancer therapeutic strategies. The 5-year award is valued at nearly $2 million
Professor Reinhard joined the Department of Chemistry in 2007 and became a faculty member of the Photonics Center in 2008. He and his group conduct interdisciplinary research in the fields of chemistry, nanoscience, photonics, and biological materials.
Mounting evidence indicates that some RNAs (so called micro RNAs [miRNAs]) play a significant role as oncogenes or tumor suppressors. The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) has funded Professor Björn Reinhard and his group to develop a nanoparticle-based imaging technology for early cancer diagnosis through detection of characteristic miRNAs.
The new imaging technology will detect and track single RNA molecules in living cells in real time without limitation in observation time. It is based on the distance-dependent plasmon coupling between individual noble metal nanoparticles that are tethered by a RNA probe strand. Hybridization of a complementary RNA target strand induces an interparticle distance change that leads to a shift in the plasmon resonance wavelength. This spectral shift indicates target RNA binding. The special novelty of the Group’s plasmon coupling approach is the active nature of the proposed nanoparticle sensors. Due to their inherent ability to couple with each other, the proposed sensors enable a continuous monitoring of the end-to-end distance of the RNA tether. They will both detect and track individual RNA molecules, as well as provide information about structural changes of the labeled RNA tether in real-time.
Entitled, “Plasmon Coupling Microscopy for the in vivo Detection and Tracking of Cytoplasmic RNA,” the two-year NIH award runs through June 2010. To learn more about the research being done in the Reinhard Group, please click here.
Sean Elliott receives 5-year Early Faculty Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science FoundationFrom BU Today:
The National Science Foundation honored CAS assistant professor of chemistry Sean Elliott for his research on biological electron transfer, with the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, a five year grant that will give Elliott the opportunity to further develop a course curriculum that highlights the intersection of chemistry and biology.
CAREER awards are presented by the NSF to teacher-scholars who are “most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century,” according to a release. “Awardees are selected on the basis of creative plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context o fthe mission of their organization.”
Elliott’s work in biological electron transfer examines how organisms convert chemicals into useful energy. The grant will also support Elliott’s study about series of cytochromes, iron-containing proteins. “This is very exciting news,” says Elliott, who joined Boston University faculty in 2002. Elliott majored in Chemistry and English at Amherst College, and completed his Ph.D. in chemistry at Caltech in 2000. He has also done post-doctoral work at the University of Oxford. “In particular, I’m most proud as it reflects the success of my graduate and undergraduate students in the lab as well as in the classroom.”
Prof. Straub Receives $1.5 million National Institutes of Health grant to continue research on the causes of Alzheimer’s disease
College of Arts and Sciences Chemistry Professor John Straub, who won one of BU’s Metcalf Awards for Excellence in Teaching last May, is known as a charismatic lecturer. But he is also internationally recognized for his research, especially in theoretical and computational chemistry.
Indeed, Straub recently received a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to probe the principles of amyloid formation. The effort is a continuation of his research in this area, which is laying the groundwork for insights into the causes of degenerative neural disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases.
Read the whole story at BU Today.
In a second round of funding for technology-related research that will contribute to the international research effort known as ENCODE, the National Human Genome Research Initiative (NHGRI) is supporting a Boston University-based effort to map the topography of the DNA molecule. Prof. Thomas Tullius, chairman of Boston University’s Department of Chemistry, has received a three-year, $870,000 NHGRI grant to map the bumps, dips, and turns that characterize the surface of “naked” DNA.
Tullius’s research will give scientists a finely detailed picture of how the most fundamental aspects of naked DNA — DNA without proteins bound to its surface — influence its function.
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