Glycans, also known as complex carbohydrates, are essential macromolecules involved in nearly all phsyiological and pathological processes. They cover every living cell in the human body and perform a wide variety of tasks including cellular communication, growth, the spread of many diseases, and are necessary for the organisim's survival. However, there are still many glycans with unknown functions due to a lack of research. With the help of a recently awarded grant from the National Institutes of Health to the University of Georgia Athens, there will soon be more research into the roles of complex carbohydrates.
The NIH awarded the University of Georgia Athens an $850,000 grant to establish a new glycoscience training program, making it the first program in the United States that will focus predominately on complex carbohydrates. The program, designed for post-doctoral students, will help bridge the gap between biology and chemistry and train students for further research in glycomics.
In 1985, UGA founded the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, one of only three centers in the world focused on the study of complex carbohydrates. The new training program, along with this center, will make UGA a leader in glycoscience research.
(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Michael Pierce, co-principle investigator for the project and a research professor from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, stated that "UGA is home to a powerful glycoscience research program, so our faculty are uniquely qualified to lead this new initiative. This field is revolutionizing our understanding of fundamental biological processes and disease treatment, and we need to support rigorous training for new generations of researchers."
It is already known that complex carbohydrates are involved in the spread of diseases, and previous research initiatives at UGA have shown that they can be involved in cancer treatment and bioenergy. Further research into the functions of complex carbohydrates could lead to them being used to treat even more diseases.
The new training program will consist of 17 UGA faculty who will work closely with small groups of incoming students who will add the study of glycomics to their schedule of already existing chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology classes. The first class of the program will consist of four students who will matriculate in 2015, and each following year the program is expected to steadily grow until the classes have 20 students.
"We're very excited about the possibilities of this program, and we think it will go a long way toward expanding glycoscience in Georgia and beyond," explained Michael Pierce.
Interested in helping further the study of complex carbohydrates? Meet with UGA glycoscience researchers at the upcoming 16th annual BioResearch Product Faire™ event at UGA on March 4, 2015. Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. is a full service marketing and event planning company that produces life science events at top research universities around the U.S. Please visit the link below for information about further funding at UGA, and take a look at our 2015 schedule of events to find a show near you.