UAMS Researchers Land $2 Million NIH Grant to Study Golgi Apparatus


Vladimir Lupashin, Ph.D., and Brian Storrie, Ph.D., at work with UAMS’ state-of-the-art electron microscope.

Aug. 30, 2013 | A pair of UAMS College of Medicine researchers recently received a five-year, nearly $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop super-resolution holography methods to study the Golgi apparatus and defects that have been associated with conditions such as glaucoma, chlamydia infection, neurodegenerative disease, viral entry and aging.

The proposal was initiated at UAMS, and the grant is being overseen by UAMS, with Brian Storrie, Ph.D., and Vladimir Lupashin, Ph.D., professors in the UAMS Department of Physiology and Biophysics, both serving as co-principal investigators on the U54 grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). Storrie serves as managing investigator for the research team.

The U54 granting mechanism is a cooperative agreement involving substantial participation, as well as funding, from the NIGMS. Storrie and Lupashin are joined by co-principal investigators from Johns Hopkins University and Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

The Golgi apparatus is the central organelle within the secretory pathway of human cells. The Golgi is central to the health of cells and overall vitally important to human health. Defects in the Golgi associated with Rab protein function affect many diseases.

“The fundamental concept is to encode the entire image of a cell, a tissue or a small organism like a zebra fish in a single hologram,” Storrie said. “That would be huge advance in simplicity over much more expensive techniques like confocal microscopy, while providing an unprecedented resolution at the same time.”

As an analogy, Storrie said, “This is like seeing the mushrooms on the tree, not just the forest.”

“In part, the groundwork for this grant was laid with construction of space for the Comprehensive Microscope Imaging Center,” said Lawrence Cornett, Ph.D., executive associate dean for research and vice chancellor for research.

Completed in early 2011, the Comprehensive Microscope Imaging Center houses an ultra-sophisticated, $1.49 million electron microscope that was funded by an earlier grant that Storrie and colleagues received from the National Science Foundation. The 1,200-square-foot, specially designed microscopy facility was completed with UAMS construction funds and philanthropic funds from the College of Medicine Dean’s Society.

For more information and a photo tour of the facility, click here. For more information on the grant, click here.

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