September 21, 2018 | ° F

New facility links protein studies to U.

Photo by Skyla Pojednic |

Biomedical engineering student Krina Doshi creates protein sensors yesterday at the Biomedical Engineering Building on Busch campus.

Through a large renovation project, the Center for Integrative Proteomics Technologies is aspiring to unify and strengthen separate strands of protein research currently isolated within University departments.

Construction to the $47 million center began in November 2009, and the project will finish in October 2011, according to a concept plan.

The site of the four-story building, about 70,000 square feet in area, is located between the Waksman complex of buildings and the Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine on Busch campus to the south of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, according to the plan.

In proteomics, scientists characterize the physical and biological properties of the large number of proteins found within organisms, Dean of Life Sciences and Vice President for Life and Health Science Partnerships Kenneth Breslauer said via e-mail correspondence.

Photo: Jen Kong

Researcher Maruthi Krishna Poluri works in the Biomedical Engineering Building yesterday on Busch campus. The University is building a new four-story protein research facility.

In integrative proteomics, scientists seek to understand how individual proteins, and associated properties, are able to coordinate activities and to participate in highly orchestrated and integrated actions.

These actions yield biological networks required for an organism to function at the molecular, cellular and system-wide levels, Breslauer said.

To be successful in the emerging field of integrative proteomics, the University requires a common physical site that brings together researchers of all types, he said.

The new center will bring together the BioMaPS Institute for Quantitative Biology, the Protein Data Bank and branches of the National Institute of Health's Protein Structure Initiative structural genomics project, said Board of Governors Professor of Chemistry Helen Berman.

"Such a physical consolidation also will allow students to train in unique laboratory environments that will prepare them for employment in this rapidly expanding field," Breslauer said. "In addition, high-tech core facilities will be located in the proteomics building, thereby providing faculty and students with access to state-of-the-art instrumentation critical for modern research and training."

Berman said training impacts a number of students in the biological, chemical, physical and computational programs.

"Since that is the direction that molecular science is moving, Rutgers should move in that direction as well," she said. "There are relatively few centers like this one in the nation, so our center will boost the research and academic opportunities available on campus for faculty and students alike."

The Protein Data Bank — the single most important repository for biological macromolecular structure data in the world — has outgrown its existing space at the University and will be housed in this new building, Breslauer said.

CIPT will also explore nuclear magnetic resonance, x-ray, cryo-electron microscopy and computational studies of biomolecules, their structure and dynamics in both functional and disease states, he said.

At CIPT, bioinformatics will be used as a tool to understand biological networks, how they control the behavior of cells and the structural basis for their operation, Breslauer said.

The University originally intended to borrow $17 million for the College Avenue Greening Project and another $47 million for the CIPT for a total of $64 million for both projects, said Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Bruce Fehn via e-mail correspondence.

"The $17 million College Avenue Greening Project is being postponed as a cost savings measure in light of the distressed economy and reductions in state support," Fehn said.

By postponing the greening project, the University was able to reduce the total amount of money that needed to be borrowed from $64 million to $47 million, he said.

"Also, we had yet to start construction on CAGP, but construction on proteomics is already well under way," Fehn said.

Livingston College senior Monica Washington said she believes the University has spent money on questionable projects, but CIPT does not seem to be one of them.

"It kind of sticks with Rutgers' mission as a research university," Washington said.

She said when the University is spending money it should focus on education and not landscaping or other aesthetic avenues. The University should spend more money on classrooms to reduce congestion.

School of Arts and Sciences first-year student Winnie Miroro said she thinks there is great value in research.

"Rutgers is known for its research programs," Miroro said. "It's not just what it does for the students, but what it does for the community at large."

Greg Flynn

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