Research

We support internationally competitive biomedical research by providing academic and industrial users with access and services on our six NMR systems.

The fields of research we support include:

Structural biology: The ways in which proteins folds into three dimensional structures, bind to molecular signals and communicate biological information can be deduced by NMR. Unlocking the value of the genome projects involves determining the 3D structures, molecular functions, ligand specificities and binding mechanisms of novel proteins, and using this information to predict and exploit biological and disease mechanisms.

Drug discovery: The discovery and development of small molecule drugs and biopharmaceutical agents benefits from NMR-based fragment screening and structural validation of binding modes. Samples and libraries are being developed.

Metabolomics is a rapidly growing field that relies on NMR to monitor fluctuations in the levels of many metabolites simultaneously. Whilst mass spectrometry offers high sensitivity, NMR offers high analytical reproducibility coupled with simple sample preparation, and is non-destructive. Dynamic concentrations of metabolites can be observed by NMR, providing valuable information about cellular responses to toxic or therapeutic agents. The Phenome Centre Birmingham offers comprehensive collaborative services on clinical and biological metabolomics projects. See also the Metabolomics Initiative.

Metabolic tracing: Metabolomics is a powerful approach, providing an unbiased view of the cellular metabolic network. However, when a more directed analysis of the activity of specific metabolic pathways is required, an alternative method -  using NMR to trace istopically labelled metabolites - is more suitable. In metabolic tracing, the fate of specifically labelled metabolites is traced in order to model biochemical pathways within the cell. The Metabolic Tracer Analysis Core (MTAC) focusses on providing investigations to determine metabolic phenotype in vitro and in vivo using high resolution NMR and other targeted methodologies. For more information, see research by Christian Ludwig, Daniel Tennant and Gareth Lavery.

Imaging:  NMR provides high resolution information about tissue samples, biofluids and cell cultures, complementing lower resolution clinical imaging methods and providing biochemical insights used to improve disease diagnosis. See also Birmingham University Imaging Centre (BUIC).

We are involved with a range of collaborative research in the Institute of Cancer & Genomic Sciences, the Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, and the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, including cell signalling, biomarker identification, liver metabolism, renal health, tumour hypoxia, DNA methylation. Our NMR users also have access to a range of other scientific technology, state-of-the-art equipment and expertise, through the University of Birmingham's Enabling Technologies.