The University of Maryland School of Medicine has received a $7.9 million federal grant
to acquire a superconducting 950 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) magnet that will help researchers unravel the mysteries of molecules and develop new agents to treat cancer, AIDS and other diseases.
The grant is among the largest of its kind ever awarded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), which is part of the National Institutes of Health. The funds were made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Earlier this year the NCRR gave the University of Maryland School of Medicine $12.3 million to renovate cancer laboratories and to build core research facilities.
The grant proposal was a partnership between the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP). The University of Maryland will be the only academic institution in the United States and one of only two sites in the country to have a 950 MHz NMR spectrometer once it is installed in November of 2011.
David Weber, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the NMR core facility at UMB, is a co-director of the grant, along with Michael Summers, PhD, of UMBC, and David Fushman, PhD, of UMCP.
The eight-ton magnet produces a supercharged magnetic field that enables scientists to investigate the three-dimensional structure of biological molecules and study their interaction with the highest degree of resolution. It is so powerful that it could lift 50 cars. The equipment will be housed in the UMB NMR core facility, located at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and will be used by researchers from all three campuses as well as from institutions throughout the Mid-Atlantic. The instrument initially will have 35 users - including 10 major core users - and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"NMR spectroscopy plays a critical role in many areas of cancer research, and having a
950 MHz NMR spectrometer on our campus is a phenomenal resource for researchers at our cancer center. It will greatly enhance and speed our efforts to uncover new information about cancer and
design new drugs to treat it," says Kevin Cullen, MD, director of the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center, and professor of medicine and director of the Program in Oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.