Stony Brook Researchers Receive $3.8 Million NIH Grant to Develop Drugs for Pain, Inflammation

Research targeting endocannabinoid transporters may also help relieve symptoms of drug withdrawal

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STONY BROOK, N.Y., November 6, 2013 – A multidisciplinary research team at Stony Brook University has received a five-year $3.8 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, to develop new drugs for pain, inflammation, and potentially drug addiction. The drug development strategy is based on their discovery of intracellular transporters known as FABPs (fatty acid binding proteins) for a neurotransmitter in the body that regulates pain and stress.

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Laufer Center Researchers Find Surprising Similarities Between Genetic and Computer Codes

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The term "survival of the fittest" refers to natural selection in biological systems, but Darwin's theory may apply more broadly than that. New research from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory shows that this evolutionary theory also applies to technological systems. 

Computational biologist Sergei Maslov of Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Laufer Center worked with graduate student Tin Yau Pang from Stony Brook University to compare the frequency with which components "survive" in two complex systems: bacterial genomes and operating systems on Linux computers. Their work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

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Laufer Center Researchers Look Back on Scientific Advances Made as a Result of a 50-Year Old Puzzle

protein folding landscapeEffort to solve questions on protein folding created field of protein physical science that has led to major scientific advances. Fifty years after scientists first posed a question about protein folding, the search for answers has led to the creation of a full-fledged field of research that led to major advances in supercomputers, new materials and drug discovery, and shaped our understanding of the basic processes of life, including so-called "protein-folding diseases" such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and type II diabetes. 

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LC Postdoc Alberto Perez is September Stony Brook Postdoc-of-the-Month

Photo of Alberto PerezAs one of the founding members of Stony Brook’s Postdoc Working Group, Alberto Perez is tireless in his efforts to emphasize the importance of communicating one’s science to all types of audiences. 

His will be the lead-in presentation in the upcoming Postdoc Research Symposium to be held on September 20 with his talk entitled Proteins? Yes, please (but folded). Why does he so highly value the art of communication?

“It is not uncommon to go to a conference, check out all the great talks you are going to hear, be in the room excitedly anticipating what is to come on the big screen ... and then you get lost after the second slide. Scientists want to make sure there is no doubt that we know what we are talking about, but unfortunately that can result in only experts, working on exactly the same problem as we are, being able to understand our presentations. It is a frustrating experience for the listener who wants to learn about new subjects, and it is frustrating for the speaker who wants to create new opportunities for collaborations across disciplines. We need to learn how to better engage everyone while keeping the talk interesting to even the more advanced listener 

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Form, Function and Folding: In collaboration with LC Lab, a team of scientists move toward rational design of artificial proteins

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In the world of proteins, form defines function. Based on interactions between their constituent amino acids, proteins form specific conformations, folding and twisting into distinct, chemically directed shapes. The resulting structure dictates the proteins’ actions; thus accurate modeling of structure is vital to understanding functionality. 

Peptoids, the synthetic cousins of proteins, follow similar design rules.Less vulnerable to chemical or metabolic breakdown than proteins, peptoids are promising for diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, and as a platform to build bioinspired nanomaterials, as scientists can build and manipulate peptoids with great precision. But to design peptoids for a specific function, scientists need to first untangle the complex relationship between a peptoid’s composition and its function-defining folded structure.Peptoids, the synthetic cousins of proteins, follow similar design rules.

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Titan Supercomputer Hours Awarded to Collaborative Protein Project

Cartoon diagram of a proteinLaufer Center Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University have been awarded processing time on a new supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study how proteins fold into their three-dimensional shapes.

Proteins, which account for one-quarter of our dry body mass, are made up of different sequences of amino acids. While these sequences are relatively well understood, the myriad ways in which the amino acid chains fold into a functional structure are still difficult to predict.

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Study Finds Parasitic Plants Steal Nutrients and Genes from Their Hosts

photo of joshua restJoshua Rest, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook, has co-authored an article appearing in BMC Genomics , "Horizontal transfer of expressed genes in a parasitic flowering plant," detailing the first evidence of substantial horizontal gene transfer from a host to the parasitic flowering plant Rafflesia cantleyi. Professor Rest was co-leader of the project along with Professor Charles Davis from Harvard University. 

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Opening of the Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology 

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The new home of the Louis and Beatrice Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology at Stony Brook University was officially dedicated at a celebratory event on May 7. Nearly 40 extended members of the Laufer family from across the United States joined Stony Brook officials, research faculty and staff, and local elected representatives for the commemorative ceremony.

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Reaping Knowledge from a Deluge of Data

Michael SchatzGene sequencing data is now accumulating at a phenomenal rate, and that rate is increasing faster than Moore's law. This makes computer storage, management and analysis into bottlenecks in the process of reaping knowledge from all that data.In the December first, 2011 New York Times, Michael Schatz of the Laufer Center and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) explained that the world's annual production of DNA sequencing data today is 13 quadrillion DNA bases, enough to fill a stack of DVDs two miles high. This is a $12-million program to create, not a database, but a knowledgebase (called Kbase) of genetic and other high-throughput information on plant and microbial communities. Michael Schatz of the Laufer Center and CSHL is a co-investigator.

The Kbase will enable scientists to develop new knowledge through free and open access to diverse biological data and models, modeling, analytical and simulation software and inventories of results (described in the DOE's Systems Biology Knowledgebase for a New Era in Biology workshop report.

 

Department of Energy Funds a Knowledgebase of Plant and Microbial Life

Sergei MaslovIn July, 2011, the U.S. Energy Department (DOE) named Sergei Maslov of the Laufer Center and Brookhaven National Laboratory to be one of four co-principal investigators to create a knowledgebase of plant and microbial life. This is a $12-million program to create, not a database, but a knowledgebase (called Kbase) of genetic and other high-throughput information on plant and microbial communities. Michael Schatz of the Laufer Center and CSHL is a co-investigator. 

The Kbase will enable scientists to develop new knowledge through free and open access to diverse biological data and models, modeling, analytical and simulation software and inventories of results (described in the DOE's Systems Biology Knowledgebase for a New Era in Biology workshop report).The flow of science collaboration through the Kbase, from the U.S. Department of Energy Genomic Science program (http://genomicscience.energy.gov).