Past Research

Developing Instrumentation for Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) NMR to Address Biologically Relevant Questions (2014 - 2017)

Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) is an excellent tool for enhancing the sensitivity of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments to examine the atomic level structures of medically relevant molecules such as proteins and drugs. Simply put, the gain in sensitivity is due to the strong polarization in paramagnetic electrons being transferred to nuclear spins. This transfer from electron spins to nuclear spins only happens efficiently in temperature conditions below 100 Kelvin (-173.2 °C/-279.7 °F). However, current NMR instrumentation (NMR probes, microwave sources, heat exchangers, etc.) have not been fully developed to aid in drug design.

In order to run address biologically relevent questions, a significant thrust in our group is advancing DNP NMR instrumentation and methods. We fabricate and impliment a gyrotron that can be easily tuned and is capable of emitting a wide range of electromagnetic waves to have a better control over the EPR spins. In addition, we build transmission line style NMR probe capable of handling multiple nuclei and high power (1 kilowatt of RF). Our current workhorse probe is capable of handling four nuclei (1H, 31P, 13C, 15N)  simultaneously. This probe can generate a γB1 of 312 kHz and is capable of experiments from 8 Kelvin to room temperature. 

These novel instrumentations and methods are applied to studying bryostatin, a protein kinase C activator. By further our understanding of bryostatin and its analogs, we hope to better aid the development of drugs to combat HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's, and cancer.