The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has awarded $1.9 million in grants to four North Carolina universities to boost biotechnology research and teaching collaborations.
The 13 separate Institutional Development Grants, which must be matched at least 25 cents on the dollar by other funding sources, were awarded to scientists at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University, North Carolina State University and East Carolina University in a highly competitive funding round.
Two of the recently approved projects -- one at Wake Forest and the other at UNC-Chapel Hill -- qualified for the maximum $250,000 under the program, which funds core facilities and multi-user equipment serving at least six investigators.
"The North Carolina research community needs this funding," said Dr. Maria Rapoza, the Biotechnology Center's vice president, science and technology development program. "This round of grant requests was the largest on record. As the technology research enterprise at North Carolina's public and private universities grows and competes, the North Carolina Biotechnology Center will be here as a partner to provide resources and support."
The grant program is one of several grant and loan programs administered by the Biotechnology Center to support biotechnology research, business, education and workforce training. The Biotechnology Center especially encourages grant requests to provide funding for equipment and facilities that strengthen regional and statewide biotechnology research capabilities.
Following are the grant recipients and their descriptions of their grant projects:
* Michael J. Thomas, Wake Forest University, $250,000 for replacing/upgrading a tandem mass spectrometer.
"This type of mass spectrometer is the workhorse instrument for biomedical research. The new mass spectrometer will be of the same type but it will have greater reliability and much better detection sensitivity."
* Richard L. Segal, UNC-Chapel Hill, $250,000 for interdisciplinary fundamental studies of mechanisms underlying human movement.
"Experiments to understand normal and dysfunctional human movement are challenging. Our goal is to understand basic mechanisms of normal and adaptive human movement using non-invasive technologies. Knowledge of basic mechanisms can later be applied to improve function in patients with debilitating strokes, brain injuries or spinal cord injuries."
* Steffen Heber, NC State University, $227,029 for a bioinformatics computing cluster.
"The Bioinformatics Research Center (BRC) at NCSU is one of the world's premier centers for education and research in bioinformatics. This proposal requests funds for a Linux cluster to enhance the computational resources of the BRC, and to enter into (a high-performance computing) partnership with the North Carolina State Information Technology Division."
* Klaus Michael Hahn, UNC-Chapel Hill, $226,960 for next-generation live cell imaging.
"A Fluoview 1000 Confocal Microscope, the top-of-the-line model from Olympus, is being Beta-tested at UNC and has been offered to us at a significant discount. This microscope system includes extra lasers, unique scanning modes and special optics, making it an indispensable research tool for developing and applying biological assays."
* David Charles Muddiman, NC State University, $187,500 for an accurate mass electrospray ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometer with the versatility and throughput to support diverse research programs and education.
"The acquisition of a mass spectrometer will facilitate a diverse range of biotechnology research and education initatives at NCSU thereby improving the economy and health of the people of North Carolina."
* Candace Haigler, NC State University, $167,535 for multi-user equipment for cryo-fracture, deep-etch electron microscopy.
"A cryo-fracture deep-etch system will allow diverse biotechnology researchers to analyze the three-dimensional structure of internal surfaces of cells and hydrated biological materials at high resolution in the transmission electron microscope. This unique capability will lead to novel advances in the fields of health, renewable bio-products and engineered biological devices."
* Mary Thomassen, East Carolina University, $163,539 for laser capture microdissection technology for biomedical research.
"Laser capture microdissection is a cutting-edge, molecular-level biomedical research technique allowing individual cells to be isolated from a tissue sample for investigation.This process will further various Brody School of Medicine areas of research including cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and immunology."
* Laurie Betts, UNC-Chapel Hill, $122,343 for a core facility for biomolecular x-ray crystallography II, low-volume crystallization robotics.
"Protein crystallography has become a ubiquitous tool for medical researchers for visualization, at the level of individual atoms, enzymes, structural proteins, carrier proteins, receptors and RNA components. We are requesting funds to upgrade our crystallization screening to include a new 'Mosquito' system capable of smaller volume testing in a rapid format."
* Stephen Tilley, UNC-Chapel Hill, $93,214 for the Lung Disease Models Core.
"The Lung Disease Models Core is a core facility at UNC in which disease models are used to evaluate the role of candidate genes and novel drugs in disease pathogenesis."
* Michael Robbins, Wake Forest University, $79,695 for orthovoltage irradiation facility at the WFU School of Medicine.
"Research into the best way we can use radiation to kill tumor cells without damaging normal cells and tissues requires the use of an x-ray machine that can irradiate small areas of mice and rats. The proposal requests funds to purchase a state-of-the-art x-ray machine that will enable multiple investigators in several departments to carry out cutting-edge research to improve patient care for the local community and North Carolina."
* Judy Brunso-Bechtold, Wake Forest University, $75,000 for a digital camera system for a Zeiss 10-CA transmission electron microscope.
"We propose to purchase a digital camera system for our electron microscope. Digital imaging permits using techniques that are not feasible with our current film system and that facilitate translating basic research to the clinic. Moreover, as digital imaging is more efficient than film, more researchers could employ these techniques."
* Kathleen Conway Dorsey, UNC-Chapel Hill, $34,239 for development of an Affymetrix molecular inversion probe technology for targeted high-throughput genotyping and comparative genomic hybridization.
"UNC-CH requests funding to purchase an Affymetrix 3000 G7 four-color scanner upgrade and an Applied Biosystems GeneAmp 9700 Thermocycler for the Functional Genomics Core Facility to support applications of molecular inversion probe technology in basic, clinical or epidemiologic research."
* Lee Graves, UNC-Chapel Hill, $27,447 for development of an antibody microarray analysis facility.
"This proposal seeks funding to develop a new technology (antibody microarrays) to study cancer cell markers and to test and evaluate novel anticancer drugs. This technology will allow us to profile individual differences in cancer susceptibility, disease progression and response of specific cancer cells to drugs."
The Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business and education statewide.