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University of Maryland School of Medicine Orders a Bruker 950 MHz NMR System for Advanced Molecular Medicine and Structural Biology Research

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The $7.9 million federal grant to fund the purchase of the AVANCE III 950 US2 is among the largest of its kind ever awarded by the National Center for Research Resources, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. The funds were made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The AVANCE III 950 US2 spectrometer delivers very high sensitivity and broad spectral dispersion. Remarkably, the 950 US2 magnet features a 5 Gauss radial stray field of only 3.3 meters (less than 11 feet), making it convenient to site within the existing NMR lab at the University of Maryland. The AVANCE III spectrometer is the fastest and highest performing NMR spectrometer on the market. Its architecture delivers an unprecedented level of digital control, speed, flexibility and exceptionally pure NMR frequency generation. The AVANCE III second-generation (2G) digital receiver (DR) technology delivers improvement in NMR detection, enhancing the University of Maryland's effort to further uncover information about cancer and AIDS and the design of new drugs to treat them.

The spectrometer will be housed in the NMR core facility at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). Under a partnership, the instrument will be used by researchers from UMB and two other campuses - the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the University of Maryland, College Park.

"Being able to observe molecules at the atomic-level eliminates a great deal of guessing when you're conducting complicated molecular experiments," says David J. Weber, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the NMR core facility at UMB. "We will have a much better ability to look at larger molecules and protein complexes with this powerful magnet - it's like working in a room with the lights turned on."

Dr. Weber's laboratory is developing small-molecule inhibitors geared to a family of calcium-binding proteins called S100 proteins, including one that is being tested in a clinical study as a possible treatment for melanoma. Other cancer researchers are studying ways to help repair the DNA in cells that have been damaged by cancer.

Michael F. Summers, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UMBC, who will use the spectrometer to continue his research into HIV/AIDS, commented: "Over the past several years, we have been pushing the limits of our existing NMR facilities in our studies of the molecular interactions that occur when HIV molecules assemble in infected cells. The 950 MHz NMR instrument will allow us to visualize the interactions that occur during the earliest stages of assembly, when the protein molecules are first beginning to bind and organize themselves on the virus' RNA genetic material."