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Enhanced NMR Facility positions OSU as regional spectroscopy center

By Debbie Farris

Watch a video of the ceremony and keynote address.

The College of Science celebrated the new Macromolecular Nuclear Magnetic Resonance instrument (NMR) with a Dedication and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony November 10, 2016, a tremendous milestone for OSU and the state of Oregon.

The 800 MHz spectrometer is the highest field NMR in the state of Oregon and one of only 50 nationwide. The new instrument will advance research on protein folding, gene discovery and biochemical structural informatics used to treat diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. The OSU NMR Facility is a campus-wide core facility dedicated to providing state-of-the-art NMR spectroscopy resources to the research and education community at OSU and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Housed in the Linus Pauling Science Center, the NMR Facility houses five NMR spectrometers that are supported by expert staff and managed by a full-time director interested in collaborating and supporting users with diverse scientific interests. Biochemistry and Biophysics alumnus Patrick Reardon (‘01) was hired as the Director of the new NMR Facility. Dr. Reardon received his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Duke University, where he focused on NMR spectroscopy and its application to complex biological systems.

Elisar Barbar, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at OSU, chaired the NMR Steering Committee and was the PI on the NIH and Murdock grant proposals. She led the three-year collaborative effort with researchers from OSU, University of Oregon, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland State University and Lewis & Clark College. The efforts paid off when the team was awarded more than $2.4 million from the National Institutes of Health, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and OSU. The High End Instrumentation grant received from NIH is one of only two in Oregon awarded during the last 10 years.

The facility supports scientific inquiry in a diverse array of research areas, such as structural biology, organic chemistry, natural products analysis and environmental studies. The instruments include: the 800 MHz, 700 MHz, 500 MHz and 400 MHz (two), corresponding to magnetic field strengths that range from 18.8 T to 9.4 T. Data processing and analysis software is available on workstations in the facility.

The 800 MHz spectrometer will enhance graduate and undergraduate education and career opportunities in the biological sciences at OSU. Students will learn to effectively utilize the equipment to conduct research at the interface of structural and cell biology.

Guests included the OSU community, scientists from national laboratories, university partners across the region as well as Interim Provost Ron Adams and President Ed Ray.

Angela Gronenborn presented a keynote address that touched on the history and key benefits of NMR as well as a scientific seminar on "Fluorine NMR- protein folding, structure and drug binding to HIV Reverse Transcriptase." Gronenborn established the Department of Structural Biology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2005 and is currently the department head. She holds the UPMC Rosalind Franklin Chair.

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