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SIUE’s Lu receives $433,000 grant from National Institutes for Health

The research project group includes, from left, Jessica Sager, Ava Austin, Yun Lu, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Chemistry, Mingxuan Bai, Grishma Singh, Sanaz Salarvand and Pratap Rijal.

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Yun Lu, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, has recently been awarded a $433,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for his biomolecular reaction mechanism study project entitled, “Temperature Dependence of Hydride Kinetic Isotope Effects in Solution to Test the Proposed Role of Protein Dynamics in Enzyme Catalysis”.

“The search for the origin of the enormous catalytic power of enzymes has a long history and has led to many proposals,” said Lu. “In this project, we will design enzyme model reactions and use the same methodologies that enzymologists recently use to replicate the observations in enzymes in an attempt to provide insight into the questionable physical origin of enzyme catalysis. Our results are expected to help develop theories for enzyme catalysis that can guide future efforts at the design of efficient drugs and biocatalysts.”

Lu will lead a team of undergraduate and graduate students through the research project, providing the students with research experience that will build their skills for entering a variety of fields following graduation.

“The students will be trained to make chemical compounds, study the chemical properties, operate chemical instruments, collect, analyze and discuss scientific data,” Lu explained. “With these experiences, the students are prepared to be problem-solvers for chemical and pharmaceutical companies, teachers, as well as to enter the health-related professional schools or Ph.D. programs.”

“We are the first and the only group to use these methodologies to systematically study the enzyme model reactions,” Lu added. “In addition to supporting our students’ research, the grant will also help improve the lab facilities to form solid infrastructure for our future research as well.”

“Lu’s research is a significant contribution to our understanding of the mechanisms of important biochemical processes,” said Eric Voss, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Chemistry. “His excellent work with undergraduate and graduate student collaborators is a prime example of the effectiveness of the teacher-scholar model that is embraced at SIUE.”

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