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USC Expands Nano Facilities To Focus on BioNano, Nanomedicine

by Editor1 last modified January 20, 2010 - 00:52

The USC (University of Southern California) Biomedical Nanoscience Initiative has finished construction on its new nanoscience labs. The additions are core laboratories that will provide a solid foundation for research at USC on biomedical nanoscience to use nanoscale particles and structures for highly precise tests, devices and treatments.

USC Expands Nano Facilities To Focus on BioNano, Nanomedicine

Director of instrumentation Allan Kershaw in a new nuclear magnetic resonance lab in Stabler Hall.

The addition was originally specified in USC’s Executive Vice President and Provost C. L. Max Nikias' original vision.

A new facility for imaging molecular structure rounds out the nanobiophysics, cell and tissue imaging, and protein analysis core laboratories opened previously. Formally called the Biomolecular and Small Molecule Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility, the new laboratory contains magnetic field scanners for studying medically important molecules in their natural state.

Previously, USC researchers were limited to x-ray crystallography, which only works if a molecule can be grown in crystal form; many cannot.  Beyond the facilities, the new equipment, "will allow us to determine the structure of small and medium-sized biomolecules," initiative co-director Mark Thompson of the USC College said at the group's annual retreat last month.

The laboratory was developed by Richard Roberts, professor of chemistry, who wrote the grant that obtained funding that was matched by the provost's office.   For more on the new USC nano labs and facilities.

USC Experts Share Vision for New Nano Facilities
USC’s Vice Provost for Research Advancement Randolph Hall noting he was "very concerned" about medicine's very slow progress against cancer and neurodegenerative diseases in particular, emphasized the nanomedical focus for the new facility needs to bridge pure research and development of new solutions. "Eventually we need to take that basic science [including nanoscience] and turn it into drugs and therapeutic devices," Hall said.

Co-director Sarah Hamm-Alvarez of the USC School of Pharmacy said the infrastructure had come so far that the initiative should consider logical next steps, such as post-doc fellowships, student travel fellowships, seminars, and other educational opportunities.

Guest speaker Paras Prasad, a nanotechnology expert at The State University of New York, said the new labs could make USC nano’s programs “globally visible” in this area in a very short time, and help the school “make a real huge impact on 21st century health care."