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Posted: February 15, 2008

$1 million Carver Trust grant will help buy high-resolution microscope

(Nanowerk News) The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust of Muscatine, Iowa has made a $1 million grant to support the University Iowa's acquisition of a field emission transmission electron microscope (FETEM) that will advance biomedical and physical science research and education at the UI.
The grant was made through the UI Foundation, in accordance with the Carver Trust's longstanding interest in assisting innovative areas of investigation that hold promise for enhancing scientific knowledge and improving human health.
"This will be the most expensive and versatile microscope ever purchased on campus," said Kenneth Moore, director of the UI Central Microscopy Research Facility, which will house the microscope at its location in the Eckstein Medical Research Building.
The FETEM's high resolution and rapid data acquisition will significantly impact numerous projects and benefit researchers at the UI. The new FETEM will be used to help researchers characterize the structure of disease-related proteins, examine viruses as potential gene vectors, and study the relationship of cell organelles in normal and diseased tissues.
"The FETEM is becoming a critical instrument for scientific and biomedical research, especially for several emerging and increasingly important research fields such as nanoscience, nanomedicine and structural biology," said Vicki Grassian, director of the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Institute at the UI, professor of chemistry in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering in the UI College of Engineering, and associate director of clinical and translational science at the UI.
Currently, there are two transmission electron microscopes (TEMS) located in the Central Microscopy Research Facility ( CMRF ). Both of these lower-resolution TEMS, however, make it difficult for researchers to collect images and chemical compositions at extremely high magnifications.
"The new microscope is capable of magnifying six million times, which is five times better than our current transmission electron microscope," Moore said. He added that a conventional light microscope magnifies around a thousand times larger than a specimen's actual size.
The $1.4 million FETEM will arrive on campus later this year and become operational sometime in 2009, Moore noted. "It will be built 'from scratch' using our ideas for its configuration," he said.
"The Carver's Trust investment ensures that an interdisciplinary group of UI faculty, staff and students will have access to state-of-the-art instrumentation that will position them at the forefront of scientific discovery and ultimately lead to new innovations for the public good," Grassian said.
Besides Grassian, UI faculty members who contributed to the project include Sarah Larsen, associate professor of chemistry in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Michelle Scherer, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering in the UI College of Engineering; Ramaswamy Subramanian, associate professor of biochemistry in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine; Aliasger Salem, assistant professor of pharmaceutics in the UI College of Pharmacy; Amanda Haes, assistant professor of chemistry in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; Allan Guymon, associate professor of chemical and biochemical engineering in the UI College of Engineering; and Joseph Zabner, professor of internal medicine in the UI Carver College of Medicine.
Established in 1973, the CMRF is part of the Office of the University of Iowa Vice President for Research. The facility has a 34-year history of providing state-of-the-art microscopy expertise to Iowans through research and teaching.
The Carver Trust, the largest private philanthropic foundation in the state of Iowa, was founded by Roy J. Carver, a Muscatine industrialist and philanthropist who died in 1981. His lifelong commitment to youth, education and research forms the cornerstone of the foundation's grant-making mission.
The UI acknowledges the UI Foundation as the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. For more information about the UI Foundation, visit its Web site at http://www.uiowafoundation.org.
Source: University of Iowa
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