By: WCTV Eyewitness News
October 4, 2017
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — A brand new Biomedical Technology Resource Center is coming to Florida State University’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, thanks to a $5.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
MagLab officials say the center will be developing unique instrumentation for cutting-edge biomedical work in high magnetic fields to fight diseases like Alzheimer’s and tuberculosis.
“This new grant leverages the exciting capabilities already available at the MagLab, allowing us to offer high magnetic fields as a transformative biomedical technique to our worldwide user community,” said Greg Boebinger, National MagLab Director.
The MagLab is already home to several world-record magnets, including the strongest magnet in the world for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).
But officials say researchers need more to face the world’s most important biomedical questions, and the new center is funding the development of innovative tools that will amplify the MagLab’s world-record magnets.
“We’re pleased by the NIH’s investment in research at the MagLab and believe these funds will help propel our scientists’ work in biomedical research forward as they seek to better understand complicated diseases that affect millions of people,” said FSU Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander.
The center’s main equipment will be in the form of probes, mini-electronic devices that hold biological samples while they are loaded into a magnet. These new probes will help scientists see the structure and chemistry of proteins that cause diseases.
Two of the new probes, called “magic angle spinning probes,” will be specifically designed for a technique known as “dynamic nuclear polarization”. These unique probes will spin solid biological samples near the speed of sound (up to 50,000 revolutions per second) to isolate signals and derive needed information to understand the molecular basis of diseases.
“Advanced probes like these are a key piece of the nuclear magnetic resonance research puzzle,” said Tim Cross, FSU chemistry professor and director of the MagLab’s NMR/MRI user facility. “These probes will be the most sensitive of their kind, and we expect them to generate quite a stir in the research community.”
Another probe will use high-temperature superconductors to develop super-sensitive NMR probes for characterizing complex solutions that contain hundreds of molecules, like those from the metabolism of our diets.
More than 40 research groups worldwide are participating in the project, and expect to utilize these probes as they become available in 2018. In effort to work with future generations of graduate students, officials say postdoctoral researchers and early career scientists across the biomedical community will also be a key component of the new center.
The new center will connect the MagLab’s nuclear magnetic resonance efforts across two sites and within two user facilities, tapping into the expertise of MagLab researchers at both FSU and the University of Florida.
The MagLab’s NMR/MRI technology group, led by William Brey and Peter Gor’kov, will design the instrumentation. Two UF faculty members, Joanna Long and Matthew Merritt, will collaborate with Cross to lead the research efforts.