Coe receives grant from American Heart Association to support summer research

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2013-08-30 11:14:20 - General

Coe College has received a $4,000 grant from the American Heart Association (AHA) to support scientific research. Specifically, this grant allowed Coe biology, neuroscience and molecular biology student Justin Jagodinsky to work alongside Assistant Professor of Physics Ugur Akgun by providing Jagodinsky with a stipend during the summer months.

In their research, Jagodinsky and Akgun created models for 10 cardiovascular drugs and simulated them in order to find their effectiveness in a drug-resistant membrane protein called p-glycoprotein (PGP). PGP is embedded in every human tissue, most specifically tissues that are transformed by cancer. The goal of Jagodinsky's research is to find the binding sites and diffusion processes of these cardiovascular drugs within the protein membrane.

Coe also received a grant to provide the necessary computational power for the research. After submitting a proposal to a division of the National Science Foundation called Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), Jagodinsky and Akgun were granted 200,000 CPU time at the University of Tennessee. The models were submitted to a supercomputer system called "Kraken." This computer allows for atomic representation, calculating the force attraction between all 170,000 atoms every tenth of a nanosecond and resembling a cross section of the living organism.

Professor Akgun calls this initial work "the first step towards active biophysics research," and he plans on using the preliminary data from this research to apply for an area grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). An area grant such as this would allow more students to perform cardiovascular research at Coe to focus on how the whole function works. This grant would be the first the college has received from the NIH, although Akgun has worked with the institute before. Additionally, another proposal would be submitted to XSEDE, requesting two million CPU for the research allowed by the NIH area grant.