Cotten and Team Study at National High Magnetic Field Lab

Hamilton students and faculty at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Hamilton students and faculty at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Associate Professor of Chemistry Myriam Cotten and her research team spent two weeks in July at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Fla., to study membrane-active peptides. Her team comprised of Matt Baxter ’11, Olivia Lin ’12, Courtney Carroll ’11, Billy Wieczorek ’11, Jason McGavin ’12 and Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry U.S. Sudheendra, used several state-of-the-art Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) instruments to obtain atomic-level information on peptide-lipid samples.

Similarly to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), NMR uses superconducting magnets to obtain signals from the nuclei of atoms such as hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen. The samples brought to analysis by the Cotten group included piscidin and neuropeptide Y, two peptides that interact with cell membranes as part of their mechanism of action.

Back at Hamilton, the members of the team are interpreting their data with the goal of better understanding the molecular features that allow the peptides to perform their biological activity. The long term goal of their research is to identify common principles that will facilitate the design of pharmaceuticals with enhanced biological activity.

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