With support from the Chemical Measurement and Imaging Program in the Division of Chemistry, and co-funding from the Instrument Development for Biological Research Program in the Division of Biological Infrastructure, Prof. Jonathan Sweedler and his group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are developing a suite of measurement approaches to characterize d-amino acids within individual cells and other small-volume domains within the nervous systems of multiple animals. Using capillary electrophoresis for separation and fluorescence and mass spectrometry for detection, along with several unique high-throughput cell sampling devices, information on the presence of d-proline, d-glutamate and d-alanine is being determined. In addition to development of new enzymatic imaging approaches and single cell characterization measurements, application to several carefully selected animal models will provide information relevant to the function of the d-amino acids throughout Metazoan life.
This research project not only promises to train students to be analytical chemists/measurement scientists, it also provides them with significant education and research experience in the biological sciences. Undergraduate and graduate students with diverse backgrounds, including many women scientists, will be actively involved and mentored in these interdisciplinary efforts. The broad-based dissemination of the research through publications, conferences, outreach, and training that includes undergraduates and graduates from multiple disciplines assures that this research advances our country's needs in science education and research.