NOVEMBER 18, 2009

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NSF Awards Grant to Oklahoma Structural Biology Group

The Oklahoma Structural Biology Nexus -- a new statewide group of structural biologists with similar interests in this high-tech field -- will establish a Robotics Crystallization Core Facility on the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus with the National Science Foundation award of a $360,000 grant for sophisticated robotics equipment.

The idea for the group originated within the OU Research Cabinet, which then facilitated a meeting among structural biologists from the OU Norman and Health Sciences Center campuses and the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation. The group met over a 14-month period to consider mutual interests and, as a result, a common theme emerged -- the relatively high-tech field required sophisticated equipment and additional resources that currently were not available in the state.

The group decided Oklahoma’s structural biologists needed a formal organization to work together to pursue collaborative efforts, so they began by choosing a name that best reflected the union of principal investigators from its nine participating organizations, which includes OU Norman, OU Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Cameron University, Langston University, University of Central Oklahoma, the Noble Foundation and CoMentis.

Ann West, OU professor of chemistry and biochemistry and the group’s first leader, led the proposal-writing effort that resulted in the winning NSF grant for the equipment that will be housed in the new Robotics Crystallization Core Facility on the Norman campus beginning fall 2009. The equipment and facility are available to all structural biologists in the state and others who need access to sophisticated robotics equipment. Experienced OU staff will operate the equipment.

OSBN is already planning to expand the scope of its activities by applying for additional NSF equipment grants and sponsoring its first annual symposium on structural biology in the fall 2010. Information about the OSBN is available at http://chem.ou.edu/osbn or contact Ann West, OU professor of chemistry and biochemistry, at awest@ou.edu.