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$2.2 million grant helps buy microscope for research

Published: October 9, 2009
Section: News


Brandeis received a grant for $2.2 million on Sept. 7 to buy a new electron microscope that will be installed in the spring of 2010. The grant from the National Institute of Health will cover the expense of purchasing the microscope, however the university will spend about $50,000 in renovating the room that will house the microscope as well as completing its installation.

Professors Nikolaus Grigorieff (BCHM), Daniela Nicastro (BIOL), Bruce Goode (BIOL) as well as Steve Harrison from the Harvard Medical School applied for this grant on Apr. 28. Several other groups and institutions also applied and a substantial number were granted funds.

Researchers working for the aforementioned professors will be the main users of the microscope, although a few other select groups in the Boston area will be granted minor use the microscope.

“Biological electron microscopy has a long tradition at Brandeis University about 35 years and scientists here have been international leaders in the field over decades. The award of this new grant acknowledges the continued leadership because the application was evaluated by peers in the field and found to be superior to many competing applications,” Grigorieff explained in an e-mail message to The Hoot.

The microscope will be used to “image proteins from bacteria, animal and human cells, as well as parts of disease agents, such as viruses. In the best case, their atomic structure will be visualized and the way they work will be better understood,” Grigorieff wrote.

The Rosenstiel Center currently houses a microscope similar to the one being installed. Te additional microscope will simply allow the university to accommodate more users and therefore complete more research.

Training on the microscope takes three to six months. For this reason, only a select number of students who spend a significant amount of time in the lab on a particular project will be allowed to use the microscope. Students enrolled in a biochemistry course on electron microscopy will have an opportunity to witness the microscope’s capabilities in action.

Grigorieff hopes “that [the microscope] will function flawlessly and provide us with beautiful images of proteins, thus boosting our research.”