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University of Iowa News Release

 

University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 11, 2006

Engineer Receives $340,000 NSF Grant To Study Cell Stress

David Murhammer, professor in the UI College of Engineering Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering and researcher in the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing, has received a three-year, $340,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate stress levels resulting from carbon dioxide (CO2) accumulation in cell culture. His work may help reduce the cost of developing environmentally safe insecticides.

The project, titled "Mechanism of Carbon Dioxide Inhibition in Insect Cell Culture," involves the use of insect cells as a model system for investigating the inhibitory effects of CO2 accumulation in cell culture bioreactors during both the growth and viral infection phases. It is anticipated that oxidative stress plays a major role in CO2's inhibitory effect, especially in virally infected cells, he says.

Murhammer notes that carbon dioxide commonly accumulates to inhibitory levels in large-scale animal cell cultures, but very little is known about the underlying mechanisms. An understanding of these mechanisms will enable researchers to develop strategies to overcome the adverse effects of CO2 inhibition, thereby leading to improved productivity in a variety of animal cell culture systems, for example, improving the production of environmentally friendly viral insecticides in insect cell cultures, he says.

Murhammer, recipient of the 2002 College of Engineering Faculty Award for Teaching, served for 16 years as faculty advisor to the UI student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), during which time the chapter received 13 outstanding national chapter awards and had 12 UI students receive prestigious AIChE Scholarships. Nationally, he has served on the executive committee of the AIChE Student Chapters Committee, received the 1996 AIChE Student Chapter Advisor Award, and has served as executive committee chair.

Murhammer, whose research interests include biochemical engineering, insect cell culture, baculovirus biopesticide production, and oxidative stress in cell culture, received his doctorate from the University of Houston in 1989 and began serving on the UI faculty the same year.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009, gary-galluzzo@uiowa.edu