New NSF Center for Biomolecular and Cellular machines
An interdisciplinary research team led by Physics Professor Ajay Gopinathan and Bioengineering Professor Victor Munoz have received a $5 million grant from the NSF CREST program to establish a Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Machines (CCBM) . CCBM's goal is to study how biological matter like proteins or cells come together to perform specific tasks, effectively behaving as machines.
The research — funded over five years through the NSF’s Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program — could help researchers design and develop innovations ranging from designer cells and tissue to novel diagnostic and therapeutic devices. CCBM brings together more than a dozen faculty members from multiple units across campus, including bioengineering, physics, chemistry and chemical biology, materials science and engineering.
Professors Gopinathan and Munoz will serve as co-directors of the center, overseeing all operations while Professors Kara McCloskey and Sayantani Ghosh will lead the graduate and undergraduate education and outreach efforts, respectively.
“Our vision for the CCBM is to be nationally and internationally recognized for cutting-edge interdisciplinary research on functional multi-scale biomolecular and cellular assemblies and to be a model for integrated research, education and outreach,” Gopinathan and Muñoz said in a joint statement. “Through focused efforts to encourage participation among underrepresented students from the San Joaquin Valley and beyond, we envision developing a pipeline for a highly qualified science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce and producing high-caliber, diverse trainees at all levels who can spur growth in California’s San Joaquin Valley.”
The grant, which is given to minority-serving institutions, will fund new research instrumentation and computational resources that further empower the research agenda at UC Merced, Muñoz and Gopinathan said. New personnel, including administrative staff and project scientists, will also be recruited to fulfill CCBM’s research and training mission.