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$249,978 NSF grant aids chemistry research at WKU, South Korea

Dr. Moon-Soo Kim, assistant professor chemistry at WKU, has received a $249,978 National Science Foundation grant for students to work with WKU and South Korean collaborators to develop a point-of-care diagnostic for pathogen detection.

Dr. Moon-Soo Kim

Dr. Moon-Soo Kim

WKU students will work on projects in biochemistry and analytical chemistry with WKU faculty and respective South Korean collaborators.

Dr. Kim and Professor Haesik Yang of Pusan National University will collaborate on the use of sequence-specific Zinc Finger Proteins (ZFPs) and Transcriptional Activator-Like Effectors (TALEs) for the detection of pathogens. They seek improvements in detection sensitivity for this technique by using electrochemical detection with redox cycling. The project is expected to develop a point-of-care diagnostic for pathogen detection.

WKU chemistry professor Eric Conte and Professor Yong-Ill Lee of Changwon National University will collaborate on the use of Magnetic Zirconia particles for the separation of chiral racemic drug mixtures. The separation of chiral racemic mixtures is a challenge in biomedicine where typically only one enantiomer will have biological activity.

Dr. Eric Conte

Dr. Eric Conte

Magnetic Zirconia particles show promise for separating a number of important racemic mixtures and subsequent isolation of the biologically important chiral molecule. Separating and isolating the pharmaceutically active chiral substance is important for studying a drug’s metabolic route.

A strengthened joint collaboration, involving WKU undergraduate students, will result between the WKU investigators from a predominately undergraduate institution and Korean collaborators at two internationally recognized Ph.D. granting institutions (Pusan and Changwon National Universities).

In addition, this experience is designed to expose students to education within a different culture. They will gain an appreciation for higher education in a country other than their own and gain research experience in an international environment.

The NSF grant award was effective June 15.

Contact: Nancy Mager, (270) 745-6257.

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