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Chemistry professors win ultra-fast microplate reader

Members of the Chemistry & Biochemistry team which submitted the winning proposal for the new microplate reader
Members of the Chemistry & Biochemistry team which submitted the winning proposal for the new microplate reader, from left, Kayunta Johnson-Winters, Kevin Schug, Frank Foss, Brad Pierce, Subhrangsu Mandal and Roshan Perera.

A group of chemistry and biochemistry faculty members has been awarded a new high-tech lab instrument, an ultra-fast microplate reader which will help them in numerous research and education initiatives.

The group - Kevin Schug, Frank Foss, Roshan Perera, Kayunta Johnson-Winters, Subhrangsu Mandal, and Brad Pierce - will receive one of five SPECTROstar Nano instruments being awarded by BMG LABTECH, a leading developer and global manufacturer of microplate reader instrumentation with a wide range of measurement methods. The group is the second to win one of the instruments, with three more still to be awarded by BMG, which is based in Germany.

The SPECTROstar Nano is a full spectrum absorbance instrument which reads microplates, cuvettes and low volume samples. It has a unique and proprietary spectrometer which instantaneously captures a full spectrum, from 220-1000nm, and redefines the most common absorbance assays such as ELISAs, DNA, RNA, Protein (Bradford, BCA, Lowry), cell growth, and beta-galactosidase.

“We have a significant number of junior faculty who are pursuing new and innovative research and teaching approaches,” Schug said in a statement. “The award of a SPECTROstar Nano system gives us many new capabilities, which we previously lacked. Not only will we be able to use the instrument for a wide range of research and teaching efforts, the instrument will provide support for the advancement of our junior faculty in their academic careers, as well as exposure to students of state-of-the-art instrumentation. We are extremely excited about the prospects that this award has afforded, and we appreciate the opportunity given by BMG LABTECH to compete for this instrument.”

As the faculty members stated in their winning proposal to BMG, their “research will make use of the multi-well capacity and air?sensitive sample handling ability of the instrument to carry out a myriad of kinetic and thermodynamic measurements. With our combined projects, the instrument will remain in constant use. Not only will it be an integral component to advance novel research avenues, it will be integrated into the educational curriculum of analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry laboratory courses.

“In this manner, virtually every undergraduate and many graduate students in the department (totaling close to 300 students at any given time) will gain hands?on experience with this instrument. The students will no doubt carry this positive experience forward into their future scientific careers in academia, government, and industry.”

Among the many uses for the instrument by chemistry and biochemistry faculty and students, Schug will use it to validate new methods for high throughput binding determinations based on flow injection analysis - mass spectrometry.

Foss will use it for high-throughput analysis of a variety of medicinal chemistry projects. Perera will use it to test his lab's technique for homogeneous monolayer immobilization (covalent attachment) of functional proteins. Johnson-Winters will use it to analyze enzymes that use Cofactor F420, and in particular, F420-dependent Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (FGD) in a recombinant system. Mandal will use it to perform cell?based screening assays (MTT, luciferase-based reporter, and mammalian hybrid assays, among others). Pierce will use it to develop a general strategy by which thiol dioxygenase (TDO) enzymes can be used as a template for the design of cheap, biomimetic synthetic catalysts for oxidative removal of organic-sulfur from fossil fuel stocks.

“In summary, we are confident that the proposed research and educational initiatives will make broad use of the innovative capabilities of this instrument,” the group members said in their proposal. “We will be pleased to publish our research in any or all formats, including application notes, conference proceeding, and peer?reviewed journals to help promote this technology to the broader scientific community.”

The instrument, valued at over $16,000, will be delivered in the next few weeks and will be housed in the Chemistry and Physics Building.