Center For Structural Biology Receives Donation From Sun Microsystems

Release Date: July 31, 1997 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo's Center for Structural Biology has received a donation of computer equipment from Sun Microsystems, Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., to facilitate research advancing virology, immunology, medicinal chemistry and a wide range of other biomedical fields.

The donation, consisting of four Sun Ultra™ workstations and peripherals, will allow researchers in the center to create three-dimensional representations of molecular structures. The research has wide-ranging implications for progress in the search for treatments for a host of human ailments, including AIDS.

According to A. Joshua Wand, Ph.D., UB professor of chemistry, biological sciences and biophysics and director of the center, "structural biology distinguishes the physical structure of cell components on the atomic level and larger. The purpose of studying these structures is to help us understand how they work, which then helps us understand how to manipulate their activity to control or cure disease."

Almost all noteworthy biomedical breakthroughs of the past 10 years, according to Wand, have been based in some measure on the increasing base of knowledge generated by structural biology.

Jean Griffin-Holst, director of academic and research computing at Sun Microsystems, said: "The University at Buffalo's biology research program is a perfect opportunity to showcase the capabilities of Sun's Ultra™ workstations. We are committed to the education and research market, and realize the benefits gained from combining our technology and knowledge with the expertise found at the world's premier academic research institutions."

Researchers in the UB center will use X-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, image reconstruction methods and computational biology to generate images of these structures. The computers donated by Sun will allow

researchers to analyze data generated primarily by NMR spectroscopy so they can visually represent the atomic scale structures of proteins, DNA and other sub-cellular components. They also will provide a sufficiently powerful computer platform to analyze stochastic kinetic data from membrane ion channels.

"Work that is on-going in the laboratories of professors Frederick Sachs and Anthony Auerbach of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is extremely computer-intensive," said Wand. "The Sun workstations will speed their ability to analyze and then visualize the data collected up to five times faster than previously."

Faculty, graduate and post-graduate fellows will use the equipment to further the various research efforts currently under way.

Established as a center of excellence to advance the research mission of the university, the Center for Structural Biology is an interdisciplinary effort made possible through the collaboration of the School of Medical and Biomedical Sciences, the School of Dental Medicine, the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and the School of Pharmacy. The university has committed more than $4 million in capital expenditures for the center to assure that UB remains in the forefront of scientific and biomedical research.

Sun is a worldwide leader in network computing systems and a leading manufacturer of computer workstations for research and business applications. The company is a major supporter of education at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels in the United States, and a leading supporter of academic research programs worldwide through grants of advanced computing equipment.