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April 10, 2006


NEW YORK, April 10, 2006 – Two science faculty members at The City College of New York (CCNY), Assistant Professor of Chemistry Iban Ubarretxena-Belandia and Assistant Professor of Physics Carlos A. Meriles, have received grants from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program. 

The awards, which run for five years, are given to support “early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization,” according to the NSF.  The agency considers them its most prestigious grants.  Proceeds are applied toward such uses as research personnel, equipment, travel, materials and supplies.

Authorized funding for Professor Ubarretxena’s project, “Biochemical and Structural Characterization of Intramembrane Proteases,” totals $934,363.  The appropriation for year one, which commenced April 1, 2006 and runs through March 31, 2007, is $115,133.

Professor Ubarretxena plans to investigate the molecular basis for regulated intra-membrane proteolysis, which is a signal transduction mechanism that controls cell growth and proliferation in everything from bacteria to humans.  He plans to study the biochemistry of intra-membrane proteins and their three-dimensional structure in order to understand their biochemical properties in atomic detail.

“This mechanism is directly involved in many forms of cancer as well as the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease,” he noted. “Understanding its properties at this level could lead to novel therapeutic strategies against cancer and neuro-degenerative disorders.”

Professor Meriles’ project, “Long-Range Dipolar Fields as a Tool for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Microscopy” has been authorized for $587,000 over five years.  The year one appropriation is $147,000. 

His investigation aims to develop techniques for using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to analyze the chemical composition of cells and functions of cellular components.  He explained that MRI has been difficult to apply to microscopy because reconstructed MRI images have resolutions no greater than one micron (one thousandth of a millimeter). 

The research strategy relies on the use of a tip that couples to the sample nuclear magnetization.  “When we observe what’s going on in the tip, we get information about what’s occurring in the region of the sample closest to it,” he explains.  “By scanning this tip, one can reconstruct a map of the sample density or chemical composition with a resolution comparable to the size of the tip.

“If successful, this strategy could be very helpful because it maintains the well-known advantages of MRI to investigate biological matter without sacrificing spatial resolution..”

About The City College of New York

For over 158 years, The City College of New York has provided low-cost, high-quality education for New Yorkers in a wide variety of disciplines.  Over 12,200 students pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, the School of Architecture, the School of Education, the Grove School of Engineering, the Center for Worker Education and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.