This award is supported by the Major Research Instrumentation and the Chemistry Research Instrumentation programs. Professor Peter Nemes from the University of Maryland College Park and colleagues Daniel Falvey, Lyle Isaacs, Lisa Taneyhill and Scott Juntti are acquiring a high-resolution, high-pressure liquid chromatograph mass spectrometer with electrospray ionization capabilities (HR-HPLC-ESI-MS). In general, mass spectrometry (MS) is one of the key analytical methods used to identify and characterize small quantities of chemical species embedded in complex samples. In a typical experiment, the components flow into a mass spectrometer where they are ionized into ions and the ions' masses are measured. This highly sensitive technique allows the structure of molecules in complex mixtures to be studied. An instrument with a liquid chromatograph can separate mixtures of compounds before they reach the mass spectrometer. In the electrospray technique a high voltage is applied to a liquid to create an aerosol. This voltage is useful to produce ions from large molecules by avoiding the propensity of macromolecules to fragment when ionized. The acquisition strengthens the research infrastructure at the University and regional area. The instrument broadens participation by involving diverse groups of students in research and research training using this modern analytical technique. The acquisition also provides training opportunities to many undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdoctoral fellows at this institution. The new capability to measure both small biological and organic molecules in a shared Mass Spectrometry Facility has a broad impact on scientists and students in the District of Columbia-Maryland-Virginia region through workshops as well as curriculum modernization and collaborations with Bowie State University.

The award of the mass spectrometer is aimed at enhancing research and education at all levels. It especially impacts studies of metabolic effectors of embryonic development and hormone metabolite activity in nervous system functions. The instrumentation is also used for research on mitochondrial metabolism in the liver as well as molecular mechanisms in neural crest and dental placode cells. In addition, the MS provides information useful for the search of the next generation enzymatic kinetic isotope effects and for studying binders for the valosine-containing protein (VCP) that segregate protein molecules from large cellular structures. The mass spectrometer is also used to inform the design of efficient syntheses for molecular guest compounds. It is also utilized in investigations of electrophilic nitrogen containing species and their reactivity with proteins and nucleic acids.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Chemistry (CHE)
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Carlos Murillo
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University of Maryland College Park
College Park
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