Feature Stories 2013: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility represents a major step forward in research

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Feature Stories 2013: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility represents a major step forward in research
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility represents a major step forward in research

UMass Dartmouth's 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer aids research by students and faculty.

‌UMass Dartmouth's 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer plays an important role as a research and academic resource for students and faculty, opening up possibilities across departments and the university.

Under the leadership of principal investigator (PI) Maolin Guo and co-PIs David Manke, Catherine Neto, Emmanuel Ojadi, and Sivappa Rasapalli, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry received a $339,000 Major Research Instrument award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the acquisition of the NMR Spectrometer, a primary means of characterizing chemical structures.

The spectrometer represents a big step forward in the department's ability to perform research, train students, and attract new faculty.

Profound impact on research capabilities

From studying the health effects of cranberries to developing molecular imaging probes, the NMR spectrometer will impact nearly all chemistry and biochemistry projects as well as many other research projects at UMass Dartmouth and beyond.

Funded by NSF, Dr. Maolin Guo and his students have been developing fluorescent sensors to image iron ions in live cells. The spectrometer will be used to characterize these new molecular imaging probes. In a related project, Dr. David Manke will use the NMR to characterize the newly made inorganic molecules to be applied to the capture and activation of carbon dioxide.

Dr. Sivappa Rasapalli's natural products based medicinal chemistry research group will immensely benefit from the access to the new facility in bringing some of their ongoing explorations to the next level.

Cranberry compounds for improved health

In the recently established UMass Cranberry Health Research Center, led by professors Catherine Neto and Maolin Guo, Dr. Neto and her students isolate the bioactive phytochemicals from the cranberry. The group will use the NMR to characterize and quantify the cranberry compounds that have potential use as antimicrobials, antioxidants, and anti-cancer agents and determine their distribution in different cranberry cultivars.

Dr. Guo and his students tag the compounds with fluorescent dye to track their bio-distribution and activities in cell models of Alzheimer's and cardiovascular diseases.

Photobiology and biocompatible polymers

The facility will benefit Dr. Bal Ram Singh and Dr. Shuowei Cai in their development of botulism antidotes.

Dr. Emmanuel Ojadi's laboratory will take advantage of the NMR in modifying porphyrins towards porphyrimer synthesis for new applications in photobiology and photophysics energy materials.

Dr. Donald Boerth's group will use the facility to further study DNA damage induced by pesticides.

In the College of Engineering, Dr. Sankha Bhomwick's group develops biocompatible polymers as novel scaffolds for tissue engineering or drug delivery vehicles.

Monitoring environmental chemicals

The NMR will be utilized to study the functionalization of various biomolecules on nano and micro-scaffolds that can be used for modulating cellular behavior or delivery vehicles for controlled drug release.

In addition, it will be useful to Dr. Yuegang Zuo of the Chemistry Department and Dr. Chen-Lu Yang at UMass Dartmouth's Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Center (ATMC), both of whom develop methods for monitoring environmental chemicals.

The facility will also be accessible to local K-12 activities and to researchers in industry and nearby institutions, such as Dr. Brian Dixon, who makes new battery materials at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.