This award by the Biomaterials program in the Division of Materials Research to Temple University is in support of a research to gain a deeper molecular understanding of the structure-activity relationship of archaeal tetraether liposomes, and to improve their usage as biomaterials and explore their possible new applications. The following two hypotheses will be tested by this project: 1) an increase in the number of cyclopentane rings in archaeal bipolar tetraether lipids will decrease membrane volume fluctuations; and 2) volume fluctuations can be quantitatively correlated to solute permeation and lipid lateral diffusion. A variety of physical techniques such as high-pressure fluorescence spectroscopy, molecular acoustics, pressure perturbation calorimetry, and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching will be employed. The expected results may lead to new designs for drug delivery, storage, coating, and sensing, all of which may have profound technological and biomedical implications. This research will bring in a rigorous multidisciplinary program for training undergraduate and graduate students in the field of biomaterials. The proposed international collaboration with Professor Roland Winter's laboratory at the University of Dortmund, Germany, will expose students to different research settings and enable them to have access to many cutting-edge instruments that are not readily available at Temple University.
The goals of this research are to isolate unusually robust lipids from the thermoacidophilic archaea (microorganisms found in acidic hot springs), and to study the physical properties of membranes formed from those lipids. These lipid membranes hold great promise as useful and advanced biomaterials for a number of technological applications such as drug storage, coating, environmental protection, targeted delivery of therapeutic agents, and medical diagnosis. This proposed research will build the scientific foundation for the development of these potential applications and bring in a rigorous graduate training project involving microbiology, chemistry, and biophysics. This multidisciplinary nature will enhance and broaden students' education and research capability. Students will have the opportunities to work on novel biomaterials, attend national meetings to present their findings, and gain experience with the proposed international collaboration. Undergraduate students at campus, one of the most diverse universities in the nation, will be trained through the Temple University Undergraduate Research Program. More than one third of University's undergraduate students are from minority communities. This project also plans to actively recruits students from local high schools and community colleges students and expose them to scientific research experience.