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NDSU receives grant for state-of-the-art biomedical and structural biology instrument

Photo of Christopher Colbert

Christopher Colbert

Researchers at NDSU have been awarded an S10 grant from the National Institutes of Health that will provide a state-of-the-art instrument called an analytical ultracentrifuge, known as an AUC.

The AUC is a key analytical instrument that isolates, identifies and measures the individual paths of molecules as they move within a solution. The data can be analyzed to determine molecular properties such as size, shape, heterogeneity (or variability), structure and assembly dynamics of individual molecules, complexes of molecules and nanomaterials. This data will provide important information about how the materials interact in solution.

“This instrument will provide us with the capability to perform experiments that have not previously been possible at NDSU,” said Christopher Colbert, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “It will help us understand how molecules interact with each other and with the various solutions they’re within, which will provide useful information for research activities involving drug delivery, virus assembly, and nanoparticles. Our AUC will truly support the expansion of biomedical and structural biology research at NDSU.”

Colbert, who was instrumental in obtaining the NIH grant, is the principle investigator on the award and will be a major user of the AUC. Previously, NDSU was not eligible for NIH S10 grants due to rules requiring a minimal number of highly-funded NIH users at an institution. Colbert realized the rules had changed and NDSU researchers could apply for this funding mechanism. An added benefit of this funding mechanism was that the institution was not required to provide a match for buying the instrument.

Colbert assembled a team of eight additional researchers with diverse research interests who would be major users of the device, along with an additional four who would be minor users. Colbert and his team then wrote the successful proposal, which received a perfect score, for the nearly $400,000 instrument.

The instrument is the Beckman Optima AUC and is considered the state-of-the art for AUC. The unit will be housed in the X-Ray Crystallography facility, which is managed by the NDSU chemistry and biochemistry department. Besides NDSU users, Colbert said external users also will have paid access to the device.

“Both local companies and institutions will have an interest in the NDSU AUC, especially given that the next closest AUC would be in Minneapolis, Omaha or Bozeman,” he said.

In addition to Colbert, the following NDSU researchers contributed to the proposal as major users of the AUC: Yagna Jarajapu, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences; Sangita Sinha, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Sheela Ramamoorthy, associate professor of microbiology; Mohiuddin Quadir, associate professor of coatings and polymeric materials; Gudrun Lukat-Rodgers, research professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Kenton Rodgers, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Erik Hobbie, professor of physics.

Minor users who contributed to the proposal are Sathish Venkatachalem, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences; Sijo Mathew, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences; Zhongyu Yang, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Stefan Vetter, research associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences.

The NDSU AUC is supported by NIH project number 1S10OD030341-01.

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Last Updated: Tuesday, November 30, 2021 4:02:14 PM
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