Michael Kennedy, an expert in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and an Ohio Eminent Scholar in Structural Biology, is in his second year at Miami.
• The Ohio Eminent Scholar in Structural Biology award included a capital grant that was used in part to purchase the 850 MHz NMR spectrometer. Kennedy also brought with him a 600 MHz NMR (funded by the PSI grant from NIGMS).
The Bruker Biospin 850 MHz NMR was installed in early October. The renovations for research space and structural biology equipment are provided by Miami through recovered indirect costs on research grants.
• With Kennedy's arrival, Miami becomes one of nine members of the Northeast Structural Genomics consortium (NESG), a research program based at Rutgers University.
NESG is one of four large-scale production centers supported by $200 million from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) as part of the Protein Structure Initiative (PSI). The PSI aims to contribute 5,000 new three-dimensional protein structures in a public database in the next five years. Like the Human Genome Project, the PSI is expected to have a significant impact on biological and medical research, claims the NIGMS.
The NESG consortium will solve about 1,000 protein structures; Kennedy and his group plan to contribute about five to 10 percent of those structures over the next five years using NMR spectroscopy.
• Kennedy has spent the last year developing collaborations for the Ohio Consortium for Metabonomics Studies of Children's Diseases.
He has already conducted preliminary studies with collaborators from Cincinnati Children's Hospital on a metabonomics study of hypertension and poor salt using specially bred mice as a model. He has developed a proposal for the Biomedical Research and Commercialization Program(BRCP) of the State of Ohio Third Frontier program. BRCP was created to support biomedical and biotech research, leading to commercialization in Ohio and long-term improvements in the health of Ohioans.
•The Ohio Consortium for Metabonomics Studies of Children's Diseases plans to:
--Develop and market NMR-based metabolic profiling databases for children's diseases - those targeted are 1. Gastrointestinal; 2. Cardiovascular; 3. Cancer; 4. Obesity;
--Discover and validate biomarkers for diagnostics applications
--Encourage an existing medical diagnostic company to establish a branch operation near Oxford so it can be near the R&D of NMR-based metabonomics tests being conducted at Miami;
--Perform custom database development and disease model parameterization on a service-for-fee basis;
--Develop inexpensive diagnostic kits, with a biosciences company, to detect signature biomarkers for disease discovered using the NMR-based metabonomics technology.
• What is metabonomics: It is the study of metabolic responses to drugs, environmental changes and diseases. Animals and human patients show consistent metabolic responses to disease, and to both desirable and adverse effects of drugs. Metabonomics is an extension of genomics (concerned with DNA) and proteomics (concerned with proteins). Following on the heels of genomics and proteomics, metabonomics may lead to more efficient drug discovery and individualized patient treatment with drugs.
• Kennedy's lab group includes a postdoctoral researcher and two senior research scholars. He is supervising the research of four Ph.D. candidates in the field of metabonomics, proteins involved in DNA-repair, and primitive regulatory networks in ancient cyanobacteria; he is also mentor to several undergraduate students.