Research

We support internationally competitive biomolecular research by providing academic and industrial users with access and support on our seven NMR systems.
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The fields of research we support include:

Structural biology: To understand living organisms in the contexts of both human and environmental health, we need to understand the mechanisms of function and regulation of large cellular molecular machinery. NMR plays a unique role in this, because of its ability to study dynamics, conformational changes, coexistence of multiple conformations and even structural disorder of molecules. Our facility promotes the application of NMR in its distinctive areas of strength and develops new methodologies to expand the scope of NMR.

Drug discovery: The classical process of discovery and development of small-molecule drugs benefits from NMR-based fragment screening and structural validation of binding modes. More importantly, and unique to NMR, is its capacity to provide insights into allosteric effects and conformational dynamics, which greatly enhance the likelihood of success of structure-based drug-discovery campaigns. Our facility promotes the application of NMR in drug-discovery by offering and developing state-of-the-art technologies together with our users.

Metabolomics relies on NMR to monitor fluctuations in the levels of many metabolites simultaneously, which provides valuable information about cellular responses to toxic or therapeutic agents. The advantages of NMR are its high analytical reproducibility, simple sample preparation and non-destructive analysis. The Phenome Centre Birmingham offers comprehensive collaborative services on clinical and biological metabolomics projects (see also the Metabolomics Initiative). Alongside classical metabolomics, the facility also supports metabolic tracing, which is the method of choice when a more directed analysis of the activity of specific metabolic pathways is required. In metabolic tracing, NMR is used to follow the fate of specifically isotopically labelled metabolites (see also the Metabolic Tracer Analysis Core, MTAC).

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).

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.