Physics Program Launches New Biophysics Lab with State-of-the Art Instrumentation
The physics program at Fairmont State University recently created a new biophysics lab through the acquisition of advanced spectroscopic instrumentation.
Physics professor Dr. Ganga P. Sharma applied for and received a grant totaling $49,000 in order to procure these instruments.
The grant was from the West Virginia Division of IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), a program that provides funds for higher education and research institutions to expand their capacity to research subjects in the biomedical field.
This support from IDeA allows for more faculty research and mentoring, as well as student participation in research. In some cases, grants from IDeA enable recipients to upgrade their workplace infrastructure to improve conditions for research.
“Establishing this laboratory will strengthen the research infrastructure at the university,” Sharma said. “In addition, it will allow us to collaborate with other organizations throughout the region.”
Sharma’s request was specifically for the acquisition of a spectrofluorometer and UV-VIS spectrophotometer along with their accessories and measurement programs.
This type of spectroscopic instrumentation is used to study molecular mechanisms, which can assist with the development of new ways to block or reverse disease-causing changes in cells. The instruments help to identify altered molecules in diseased cells.
Sharma noted that the new lab will enhance learning for students in other programs such as biology and biochemistry, as well as throughout the sciences.
“The data generated from the lab will not only be instrumental in deepening our understanding of molecular events, but it will also be applicable to future research on other membrane proteins,” Sharma said. “Membrane proteins are so vitally important to the function and survival of all cells that they are the target of 50 percent of all modern medicinal drugs.”
Since the establishment of the new lab, students have shown enthusiasm in upcoming research projects. Sharma has already appointed one student to assist in his spring 2024 research project, and he encourages all interested undergraduates to look into the project through the Support for Research Excellence (SuRE) program.