Marisa OlsonContact Email:
For the third time this summer, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 has found its way to University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. A grant for research at the University will be funded by the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of General Medical Science through the ARRA.
The project, titled “Molecular Dynamics Simulations of an Oligomeric Ion Channel within a Lipid Bilayer,” gives chemistry student Thuy Hien T. Nguyen MS’11 the chance to accelerate the research on modeling the formation of an ion-channel and the movement of the channel peptides in the cellular membrane. It supplements an existing NIH grant held by Dr. Preston Moore, director of the West Center for Computational Chemistry and Drug Design (WC3D2) and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, with the same title and provides a stipend to Nguyen.
Additionally, the WC3D2 has been awarded resources by TeraGrid (A National Science Foundation funded project) that will allow Nguyen to address scientific problems that are not possible with the resources currently available at the University. Nguyen will continue her undergraduate research on the formation of ion-channels in membranes. Many of these computations, specifically the simulation of an ion-channel assembly, would take up to a year using conventional computers; however, with the resources awarded, these computations can be done in as short as eight minutes.
The knowledge gained from this particular project will provide for novel therapeutics, antimicrobial, antiviral, and other pharmaceutical agents, thus enhancing the United States scientific workforce while promoting health. Ultimately, grants such as these are part of the government’s goal of helping to stimulate the economy.
In particular, the research that Nguyen has conducted will allow for new job creation in drug development. By understanding the formation of an ion-channel on an atomic level, various applications can be applied to create more jobs. The possible new pharmaceuticals and therapeutics would require design, synthesis, testing, and quality control; hence, creating and maintaining jobs.
As stated by an NIH representative, “The results of her research will stimulate the economy while promoting public health by allowing for the rational design of novel drugs to interact with ion-channels.”