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NIH to fund glycomics center at Emory
08-22-2013
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author
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ATLANTA—The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have announced plans to fund a new National Center for Functional Glycomics (NCFG), which will be housed at the Emory University School of Medicine. The new center will be funded by a five-year award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) worth more than $5.5 million, which can potentially be renewed every five years.  
 
The NCFG will be directed by Richard D. Cummings, Ph.D., William Patterson Timmie Professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Emory. Cummings also serves as the leader of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics, another program from the NIH/NIGMS and the world's largest group of glycoscientists and biomedical researchers in the field of glycomics.
 
"Emory's Glycomics Center is pleased to lead this effort in advancing the fields of glycobiology and glycomics, which are increasingly recognized as being of critical importance to advances in biomedical research and treatment of disease," said Cummings in a press release. "Our future plans are to build on the technological breakthroughs in glycomics over the past decade and develop new tools for exploring the rich biological roles of glycans in disease and health."  
 
In addition to Cummings, who will serve as principal investigator, personnel for the NCFG also include David F. Smith, Ph.D., technical director and professor of biochemistry; Tongzhong Ju, M.D., Ph.D., project leader and associate professor of biochemistry; Xuezheng Song, Ph.D., project leader and assistant professor of biochemistry; and Jamie Heimburg-Molinaro, Ph.D., project coordinator.
 
This grant from the NIH will be used to fund research into the recognition of glycans and complex carbohydrates through the use of "glycan microarrays," platforms that contain microscopic outlays of diverse glycans that might be recognized by antibodies, proteins, viruses and bacteria. In addition to this work, the NCFG will specifically focus on developing technology for the glycosciences, particularly to aid in exploring the molecular mechanisms of glycan recognition by proteins within the body that play roles in human biology and disease.
 
Glycans are polysaccharides or oligosaccharides, and the glycans found on glycoproteins and glycolipids and in body fluids represent the glycome, which is similar to the genome and the proteome. Changes in glycosylation—the process in which glycans are attached to proteins, lipids or other molecules—play a role in numerous diseases and conditions, such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, inflammation and congenital disorders of glycosylation. Glycans on human cells are bound by viruses and bacteria that consist of the frontrunners in invasion and infection.  
 
SOURCE: Emory University press release
 
Code: E08221301

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