News Release: Research

Oct. 26,  2011

Glycomics Center at Emory Awarded $2.7 Million 'Glue' Grant to Lead Research Partnership

News Article ImageGlycan microarrays represent the cellular glycome and its interactions with proteins and pathogens

The Glycomics Center at Emory University School of Medicine, led by Richard D. Cummings, PhD, William P. Timmie Professor and chair of the Department of Biochemistry, has received a $2.7 million, three-year award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The funding is a legacy continuation of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics to support the Emory Glycomics Center.  This Center will lead an international group of over 500 participating biomedical researchers in ongoing collaborative glycomics research.  Some key collaborators in this work include David F. Smith, PhD, director of the Glycomics Center at Emory, and James Paulson, PhD, at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Ca.

Analogous to genomics and proteomics, glycomics focuses on defining the structures and functions of complex carbohydrates, as found in glycoproteins, glycolipids and glycosaminoglycans/proteoglycans. Complex carbohydrates are important in many physiological processes, and alterations in glycosylation are associated with vast numbers of diseases and disorders. In addition, glycans on human cells are bound by a wide variety of viruses and bacteria that are initial steps in invasion and infection.

The grant will fund research into the recognition of glycans and complex carbohydrates using the new technology of “glycan microarrays,” which are platforms containing microscopic outlays (nanograms) of diverse types of glycans that may be recognized by antibodies, proteins, viruses and bacteria. The specific glycans recognized then allow new hypotheses to be developed about the role(s) of glycans in biological processes under study. Such information can be combined with other information based on genomic, transcriptomics, and proteomic and/or glycoproteomic analyses to define the molecular nature of the biological interactions.

“Emory’s Glycomics Center is pleased to lead this international effort in advancing the fields of glycobiology and glycomics, which are increasingly recognized as being of critical importance to advances in biomedical research and treatment of disease,” says Cummings. “Our future plans are to build on the technological breakthroughs in glycomics over the past decade and develop new tools for exploring the rich biological roles of glycans in disease and health”.

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