News item posted on 2018-07-10

CSB receives 2018 TIPS Funding for X-ray crystallography initiative

Vanderbilt University has awarded funding to the Center for Structural Biology (CSB) Trans-Institutional Programs (TIPs) initiative: “A Synchrotron-like X-ray Source for Structural Biology at Vanderbilt – VRA.” Initiative participants include CSB faculty, School of Medicine clinical faculty and College of Arts and Science faculty.

TIPs awards are either Vanderbilt Initiative Awards (ViAs), seed grants that serve as incubators for exciting new ideas or Vanderbilt Reinvestment Awards (VRAs), which are larger grants for existing initiatives, centers or institutes. The CSB initiative received a VRA award, which provides funds to existing centers and institutes to facilitate discovery and learning collaborations across campus. The VRA program is geared to help centers/institutes advance to the next level, launch new activities, enhance current capabilities and ensure continued success.

Despite the development of new structural techniques such as Cryo-EM, X-ray crystallography remains the dominant method used in all structural biology. However, the rate of X-ray discovery is limited by long queues and maintenance downtime of synchrotron radiation sources, which are enormous federally run facilities. A new type of home radiation source called MetalJet now allows data to be collected locally on campus, dramatically expediting and expanding the entire structural biology enterprise. With this investment, Vanderbilt has the opportunity to seize the lead in the previously impossible structural biology and academic structure-based drug design. An on-site device will increase the university’s rate of discovery and provide a unique educational experience for Vanderbilt students.

Collaborating CSB faculty include: Ray Blind, Borden Lacy, Brandt Eichman, Walter Chazin, Stephen Fesik and Tina Iverson.

To learn more about this and the other projects awarded funding, read the article online at Vanderbilt News.

Author: Karen D. Davis