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Award Abstract #1228874

MRI: Acquisition of modern x-ray diffraction equipment to enhance research and training

Div Of Biological Infrastructure
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Initial Amendment Date: July 16, 2012
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Latest Amendment Date: July 16, 2012
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Award Number: 1228874
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Award Instrument: Standard Grant
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Program Manager: Robert Fleischmann
DBI Div Of Biological Infrastructure
BIO Direct For Biological Sciences
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Start Date: July 15, 2012
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End Date: June 30, 2015 (Estimated)
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Awarded Amount to Date: $313,156.00
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Investigator(s): Sean Johnson sean.johnson@usu.edu (Principal Investigator)
Alvan Hengge (Co-Principal Investigator)
Scott Ensign (Co-Principal Investigator)
Joan Hevel (Co-Principal Investigator)
Jixun Zhan (Co-Principal Investigator)
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Sponsor: Utah State University
Sponsored Programs Office
Logan, UT 84322-1415 (435)797-1226
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Program Reference Code(s): 9150
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Program Element Code(s): 1189


This NSF MRI award will be used to acquire a new rotating anode x-ray generator and optics for macromolecular crystallography, completing a multi-year effort to bring state-of-the-art crystallographic facilities to Utah State University. The equipment supports a number of researchers on the USU campus and surrounding institutions who depend on structural information but would otherwise have limited or no access to structural methods. The improved x-ray capabilities provided through this award will significantly enhance efforts to determine high-resolution crystal structures of large biological molecules. The projects supported by these facilities are wide-ranging and include investigation of RNA surveillance, phosphoryl transfer, metabolic engineering, post-translational modification, hydrocarbon metabolism, evolutionary adaptation and biofuel synthesis.

Structural studies play an essential role in all areas of biological and biochemical research, and are an indispensable component of student training. Facilities for macromolecular crystallography are extremely limited in the Intermountain Region of the United States. The crystallographic facilities located on the USU campus provide a critical resource for researchers throughout the area. The increased capability and reliability of a modern x-ray source will promote increased use by the current users as well as other research groups at USU and the surrounding region. This new state-of-the-art instrumentation, combined with a long-term focus on collaborative research and training, brings the full impact of structural biology to a smaller, geographically remote institution. It further provides a model that may be reproduced in similar environments. A training plan is in place for maximizing usage of the instrument. Our approach (1) enables research groups to perform crystallographic experiments independently, and (2) provides widespread exposure to structural methods. New coursework has been designed to teach crystallographic methods at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Significant financial resources are available on the USU campus for support of undergraduate research, and each of the PIs have established track records engaging undergraduate students in their research efforts. Outreach efforts include integration of structural biology into a summer high school research program supported by the department. The expanded course offerings and student mentoring, coupled with faculty scientific expertise and new state-of-the-art instrumentation, will give widespread exposure and direct access to the rapidly expanding field of structural biology.


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Bakelar, Jeremy W.; Sliwa, Dariusz A.; Johnson, Sean J.. "Crystal Structures of S-HPCDH reveal determinants of stereospecificity for R- and S-hydroxypropyl-coenzyme M dehydrogenases," ARCHIVES OF BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS, v.533, 2013, p. 62-68.


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