July 15, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 19

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    Packard Foundation gives nearly $1 million to four Chicago faculty members

    By Sharon Parmet
    Medical Center Public Affairs

    University researchers from the departments of chemistry, pathology and biochemistry and Argonne National Laboratory have received a $960,000 Interdisciplinary Science grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. It is the largest award for a three-year research project given by the foundation this year.

    The researchers receiving the award are David Lynn, Professor in Chemistry; Stephen Berry, the James Franck Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry; Tobin Sosnick, Assistant Professor in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Stephen Meredith, Associate Professor in Pathology; and Pappannan Thiyagarajan, staff scientist at the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source at Argonne National Laboratory.

    The researchers will use the grant money to unravel the mysteries of protein folding by studying amyloid fibers and other self-associating proteins. The beta-amyloid peptide may be responsible for causing Alzheimer’s disease. Through statistical and mathematical approaches, the scientists will model how proteins and other macromolecules, such as RNA, fold.

    The scientists will use a variety of physical techniques, including small angle X-ray and neutron scattering at the Advanced Photon Source and the Intense Pulsed Neutron Source, both at Argonne National Laboratory, and solid-state and other nuclear magnetic resonance techniques.

    “We’re using the amyloid peptides to learn more about protein folding in general because we already know a lot about its basic structure,” said Lynn.

    “We can use theoretical and experimental tools to ask how amyloid proteins fold into their unique fibril-like shape,” he explained, “and use this information to predict how other large proteins may fold.”