HFSP awards $1.2 million grant to research team led by Professor Shimon Weiss

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An international team led by biophysical chemist Shimon Weiss has been awarded a prestigious Human Frontier Science Program research grant. The grant is for $1.2 million over three years. The HFSP international program supports cutting-edge research on the complex mechanisms of living organisms, and is funding only the top four percent of grant applicants. Weiss, who holds UCLA’s Dean M. Willard Chair in Chemistry, is a professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the UCLA College, a professor of physiology in the David Geffen School of Medicine and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. He is one of the world’s leading chemists in the use of single-molecule techniques, especially in the study of biological molecules, and has developed instrumentation and methodologies to study single biomolecules.

The research project’s focus is to solve the three-dimensional structure of macromolecules and produce three-dimensional structural movies of macromolecules in action while they perform their biological functions. Conventional structural tools provide only snapshots and not the full movie, he said.

“This multidisciplinary project will result in a new generic toolkit applicable to a large array of enzymes, proteins and molecular machines,” Weiss said.

The international team also includes biochemists from the University of Washington and Switzerland’s University of Zurich, as well as bioengineers from Italy’s Polytechnic University of Milan.

Weiss’ research group at UCLA is enhancing our understanding of proteins, life’s most important class of molecules, using state-of-the-science technologies known as fluorescence spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy and biological imaging. His research team studies enzymes, a class of proteins that are vital for catalyzing other biochemical reactions necessary for life.

Weiss’ research group is made up of scientists from many disciplines, including chemists, biologists, physicists, mathematicians, biochemists and computer scientists.

For more on Weiss’ research, visit his website.

Article by Stuart Wolpert, 

UCLA Newsroom.