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Agilent Technologies supports Professor’s work developing transformative NMR applications for structural biology
Agilent Technologies Inc. announced that Dr. Hashim M. Al-Hashimi at the University of Michigan has received an Agilent Thought Leader Award. The award supports his work in developing advanced nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy methods to characterize the form of DNA known as Hoogsteen base pairs, a work that could dramatically alter the way DNA structure is understood.

The award will support Dr. Al-Hashimi and his team in their efforts to develop robust and efficient methods for characterizing the unusual structure and biological functions of Hoogsteen base pairs in DNA and DNA-protein complexes. The methods developed through this project will be made widely accessible to the biophysics and structural biology communities via scientific publication and other channels.  Dr. Al-Hashimi and his team believe their work could lead to significant advances in DNA-targeted drug discovery and other applications.

Hoogsteen base pairs, named after biochemist Karst Hoogsteen, are rare, three-dimensional variations of base-pairing in nucleic acids that are dynamic and structurally distinct from Watson and Crick’s linear double-helix model of DNA. NMR spectroscopy is used to analyze the atomic-level hydrogen-bonding patterns of base pairs.

“NMR spectroscopy can provide unique information about the many curious aspects of biomolecular structure and behavior, such as Hoogsteen base pairs, which can in some cases exist in exceptionally low abundance and for very short periods of time,” said Dr. Al-Hashimi. “I expect that innovations in NMR methods will make it possible to comprehensively examine the occurrence of such unusual base pairs in genomes where they may provide a new and unexplored layer of genetic information.”

Dr. Al-Hashimi, a professor of chemistry and biophysics, has focused his research on the structure and dynamics of nucleic acids and ribonucleoproteins, using NMR spectroscopy. He holds a doctorate from Yale University, is a published author and has received numerous awards for his scientific achievements.

“The scientific community is in great need of tools to adequately visualize and characterize the dynamics of biomolecules at the atomic level, so we are pleased to support Dr. Al-Hashimi’s transformative work with NMR spectroscopy,” said Regina Schuck, Ph.D., Agilent vice president and general manager, Research Products Division. “We are confident that his work will yield a variety of NMR-based approaches to DNA research that can be used by NMR experts and novices alike, and quite possibly lead to a radical shift in our understanding of genetic code.”

The Agilent Thought Leader Program promotes fundamental scientific advances by contributing financial support, products and expertise to the research of influential thought leaders in the life sciences and chemical analysis.

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