Campus: CSU Long Beach -- September 23, 2005

Cal State Long Beach Receives $500,000 Keck Grant to Establish Center for Education in Proteomic Analysis

A new Center for Education in Proteomic Analysis (CEPA) -- the first of its type in the California State University system -- is being established at California State University, Long Beach with a $500,000 grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation.

Proteins perform essential roles in all biological processes, and proteomics is the study of some or all of the thousands of different proteins contained within an organism, tissue or cell. Through proteomic analysis, scientists seek to understand how function correlates with the complete protein composition of a biological system under normal or diseased states.

CEPA will provide students and faculty throughout the CSU system with access to a state-of-the-art proteomics facility for both research and instruction. It is part of CSULB's Institute for Integrated Research on Materials, Environment and Society (IIRMES), an interdisciplinary research center developed by the university's Colleges of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (CNSM), and Liberal Arts. Faculty and students from biology, chemistry, biochemistry, geology, physics and astronomy, as well as geography and anthropology utilize its sophisticated array of equipment, funded largely by the National Science Foundation, the university and other organizations such as the W. M. Keck Foundation.

The W. M. Keck Foundation grant together with CSULB funds will help purchase a suite of instruments that includes a Perkin-Elmer prOTOF 2000 matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization orthogonal time of flight mass spectrometer, as well as to hire a staff technician. The mass spectrometer will be used to analyze large biomolecules, including changes in amino acid compositions of mutant or engineered proteins. It is anticipated that the acquisition of the instrumentation will enable the hiring of a faculty member with specific expertise in proteomics who will help coordinate CEPA activities.

Douglas McAbee, chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Andrew Z. Mason, professor of biological sciences and IIRMES director, will be initially responsible for overseeing CEPA.

"Our mission as educators requires us to inform students how technological advances applied to genomics, proteomics and bioinformatics have provided the practical means to address fundamental questions in the life sciences," McAbee said. "The fairly recent advent of soft-ionization mass spectrometry provides investigators with the technological means to answer crucial questions that previously were impractical or impossible to address." He said that proteomics labs are common at research institutions, "but these facilities are used almost exclusively for research applications. What sets CEPA apart, we believe, is its mission to train students in proteomic analysis.

"It is important to stress that CEPA will provide students and faculty throughout the CSU system with access to a state-of-the-art proteomics facility for both research and instruction," McAbee added. "This is underscored by the fact that the proposal funded by the W.M. Keck Foundation listed 15 senior investigators from several CSU campuses, was supported by the Strategic Planning Council of CSUPERB, and outlined instructional applications of the facility for courses and workshops for students at the high school, undergraduate, and M.S. level."

"Our college views student-faculty research as a proven and effective means to prepare and motivate young scientists," said CNSM Dean Laura Kingsford. "Student participation is enriching and vital for their growth as scientists. We are highly committed to supporting faculty members in their research and, as such, put a high priority on providing ways to promote collaborations, share major resources and acquire state-of-the-art technologies. The establishment of CEPA will add another very important dimension to the training and research capabilities for students and faculty in this college and throughout the CSU system."

"Because theory should not be divorced from practice, we must also equip students with the practical skills in the use of the latest technologies so that we can provide a trained, educated workforce for biotechnological industries and the employment demands of the next decade," Mason said. "The CSU system has an excellent reputation for producing graduates with practical, hands-on laboratory experience and employers have always commented that the CSU produces students who are every bit as good, and often better than, those graduating from the UC system. This is in part because of our emphasis on laboratory classes and undergraduate research."

IIRMES also houses the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB) Core Facility for Elemental Micro-Chemical Analysis (FEMCA).

By sharing equipment and expertise, CSUPERB core facilities located at several CSU campuses provide educators, researchers and students, both in the CSU and elsewhere, with a variety of fee-based analytical services. CEPA, once operational, will become part of FEMCA.

"The intellectual horsepower of the molecular life and chemical sciences at CSULB has long been underestimated and under-appreciated," said A. Stephen Dahms, CSUPERB executive director and professor of chemistry at San Diego State University. "CSULB has been brought to the forefront of the CSU in key separation and analytical technologies that underpin modern biotechnology."

Surveys by the National Science Foundation and other government agencies rate CSULB among the top master's universities in the number of graduates who go on to earn doctoral degrees. U.S. News and World Report ranks CSULB third among public western master's universities for overall quality.

Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company. The Foundation's grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical research, science and engineering. The Foundation also maintains a program to support undergraduate science and humanities education and a Southern California Grant Program that provides support in the areas of health care, civic and community services, education and the arts, with a special emphasis on children.

Additional information is available at www.csulb.edu/programs/iirmes.

Media Contacts:
Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454, rgloady@csulb.edu
Anne Ambrose, 562/985-2582, aambrose@csulb.edu


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