Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Magnet Sends Lab Capacity ‘Through the Roof’ at Laboratories for Molecular Medicine

Published: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 05, 2013
Bookmark and Share
As a crane lowered a powerful 3.8-ton magnet through the roof, Brown began work on deploying a powerful new tool for molecular biology research.

The magnetic field strength is what really matters about Brown’s new Bruker 850 nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, but from a visceral standpoint here’s an impressive attribute: It’s so big that delivery today at the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine required lowering it with a crane through a 100-square-foot portal in the roof of the building at 70 Ship St.

“That’s the only way into the building,” said medicine and chemistry Professor Wolfgang Peti. “No door is large enough.”

Elbow Street was closed most of the day to host the crane and the tractor-trailer that hauled the humongous magnet here. It’s about 13 feet tall and nearly five feet in diameter. It weighs more than 7,700 pounds.

But much greater than the $2.9-million magnet itself is the potential of the research it will enable. Its job is to provide the incredibly strong magnetic field used in NMR spectroscopy. The technology allows chemists and biologists to determine the structure and motions of proteins down to the level of their individual atoms. It’s a powerful tool for observing the most fundamental workings of life.

The new magnet’s field strength of 19.97 Tesla vastly exceeds the University’s current NMR spectroscopy magnet, which has a strength of 11.7 Tesla. That means the new instrument will have higher resolution, Peti said. It will be able to produce distinct information from signals that the weaker magnet would have represented as overlapping, and will be able to measure distances of as small as 2 Angstroms (two tenths of a billionth of a meter).

“We can now look at larger biomacromolecules, such as proteins or protein-DNA and protein-RNA complexes,” Peti said. “We have done those kind of measurements at Brandeis University for the last seven years.”

Brown University Provost Mark Schlissel said the magnet is an important investment in research. “In many fields of science, discovery is limited not by creative ideas but rather by access to cutting-edge tools such as the 850 MHz spectrometer now being installed,” Schlissel said. “In this case, anonymous donors who share our vision of enhancing Brown’s impact on society through research provided the resources that allowed my office to support this critical acquisition.”

Brown will now have the second most powerful NMR capability in New England, behind an instrument shared by Harvard and MIT. There are only a few comparable spectrometers in all of the northeast, including the mid-Atlantic region.

It will be installed alongside its smaller, older 11.7-Tesla brother in the Structural Biology Core Facility on the building’s first floor.

The most frequent users are likely to be the University’s core structural biology faculty members: Peti, Gerwald Jogl, Rebecca Page, and Nicolas Fawzi. The search for another junior colleague is underway.

But with full-time, expert facility manager Michael “Sparky” Clarkson on board, Peti said, other faculty members will have expert help using the NMR tools.

The core facility is also available for use beyond Brown, Peti added. The new magnet already has stirred interest among pharmacy researchers at the University of Rhode Island, and universities in the area are cooperating to apply for a grant for a third, mid-range magnet.

Now that the magnet has been loaded in, work on the facility continues and the magnet will be fully installed by spring. Peti already has plans for the new instrument’s capabilities.

He has a hypothesis about how enzymes called MAP kinases are activated in the body. These proteins are responsible for regulating cell functions such as growth and inflammation. Problems in their activation or deactivation can result in terrible ailments such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

“We think we’ve figured out how kinases get activated and we need to record some of the data here to prove our hypothesis,” he said.

Now Brown has a magnet big enough to observe those very tiny phenomena.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Proteins with ALS, Cancer Role Do Not Assume a Regular Shape
Our cells contain proteins, essential to functions like protein creation and DNA repair but also involved in forms of ALS and cancer, that never take a characteristic shape, a new study shows.
Monday, October 12, 2015
Study Proposes New Ovarian Cancer Targets
Researchers from Brown University propose that TAFs may be important suspects in the progression of ovarian cancer.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Newly Found CLAMP Protein Regulates Genes
Protein turns out to be the missing link that allows a key regulatory complex to find and operate on the lone X chromosome of male fruit flies.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
NMR Advance Brings Proteins into the Open
A key protein interaction had eluded scientists’ observation until a team of researchers cracked the case by combining data from four different techniques of NMR.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Brown Researchers Create Novel Technique to Sequence Human Genome
Physicists report in the journal Nanotechnology the first experiment to move a DNA chain through a nanopore using magnets.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Scientific News
A Cellular Symphony Responsible for Autoimmune Disease
Broad Institute researchers have used a novel approach to increase our understanding of the immune system as a whole.
Non-Disease Proteins Kill Brain Cells
Scientists at the forefront of cutting-edge research into neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have shown that the mere presence of protein aggregates may be as important as their form and identity in inducing cell death in brain tissue.
Closing the Loop on an HIV Escape Mechanism
Research team finds that protein motions regulate virus infectivity.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Gut Microbes Signal to the Brain When They're Full
Don't have room for dessert? The bacteria in your gut may be telling you something.
Turning up the Tap on Microbes Leads to Better Protein Patenting
Mining millions of proteins could become faster and easier with a new technique that may also transform the enzyme-catalyst industry, according to University of California, Davis, researchers.
Exploring the Causes of Cancer
Queen's research to understand the regulation of a cell surface protein involved in cancer.
Measuring microRNAs in Blood to Speed Cancer Detection
A simple, ultrasensitive microRNA sensor holds promise for the design of new diagnostic strategies and, potentially, for the prognosis and treatment of pancreatic and other cancers.
Novel Proteins Linked to Huntington's Disease
University of Florida Health researchers have made a new discovery about Huntington's disease, showing that the gene that causes the fatal disorder makes an unexpected "cocktail" of mutant proteins that accumulate in the brain.
Enzyme Critical to Maintaining Telomere Length Discovered
New method expected to speed understanding of short telomere diseases and cancer.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos