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Emory Wins $5.5M to Launch Functional Glycomics Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Emory University will use a $5.5 million grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences to create a new National Center for Functional Glycomics that will house a range of glycosciences research, Emory said today.

The funding will cover NCFG operations for five years and will support studies that explore the molecular mechanisms of glycan recognition by proteins that are important in human biology or disease, Emory said.

The center will pursue research projects using glycan microarrays of diverse types of glycans that may be recognized by antibodies, proteins, viruses, and bacteria. Knowledge relating to how these glycans are involved in biological processes can be combined with other types of information, including data from genomic, proteomic, and transcriptomic analyses to define the molecular qualities of biological interactions.

According to the project proposal, the NCFG will have five major objectives: pursuing technology R&D projects, conducting biomedical research studies, offering collaborative services, providing training, and disseminating its technologies and research discoveries.

The technology R&D projects will focus on expanding glycan microarray technologies, developing shotgun glycomics as a general method for studying natural cell-derived glycan recognition, and developing different glycan display technologies.

The biomedical research projects will include studies on the roles of glycans in microbial and viral infections, glycans and glycan-binding proteins (GBPs) in cell adhesion, innate and adaptive immune responses, and recognition factors that contribute to GBP interactions.

The center will be directed by Richard Cummings, who also is co-director of the current Emory Glycomics Center and leader of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics and chair of Emory's Department of Biochemistry. He will be joined at the new center by David Smith, current director of the Emory CFG, who will be technical director.

Cummings said in a statement that the fields of glycobiology and glycomics "are increasingly recognized as being of critical importance to advances in biomedical research and treatment of disease."

"Our future plans are to build on the technological breakthroughs in glycomics over the past decade and develop new tools for exploring the rich biological roles of glycans in disease and health," he said.

The Emory Glycomics Center has won over $18 million in grant funding since it launched in 2007, Emory said.