Elements are the building blocks of Nature. Every biologic and chemical process is the result of elemental interactions occurring at the atomic level. Understanding elemental concentrations, distributions and dynamics within living organisms has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of how these building blocks assemble and interact during processes fundamental to all fields of biology. In this regard, we request funds to purchase a laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (LA-ICP-MS) to measure elemental concentrations and distributions in a variety of biological samples. In addition to providing highly sensitive quantitative measurements of elements within biological samples, this machine has the capability to image elemental distributions within sectioned animal tissue. In keeping with this, an LA-ICP-MS will serve the research programs of multiple NIH-funded investigators by expanding these projects to allow for highly sensitive metal measurements and elemental imaging. The combined results obtained from these studies have the potential to advance research on a variety of diseases including Huntington's disease, Menkes disease, Minimata disease, metal-induced neurodegeneration such as that associated with Parkinson's disease, kidney diseases, infertility, and infectious diseases. Currently, there is no comparable piece of equipment at this institution and we are not aware of a comparable piece of equipment in the entire state of Tennessee that is accessible to researchers from our institution. Access to LA-ICP-MS technology will significantly enhance the research capabilities of Vanderbilt investigators, and when interfaced with MS-based protein localization strategies that are available at Vanderbilt, will provide unprecedented detail of metalloprotein trafficking and dynamics within animal tissue. These results will lay the groundwork for the design of a variety of therapeutic agents targeting a diverse array of diseases.
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