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Acquisition of a 600MHz solution NMR spectrometer

English title Acquisition of a 600MHz solution NMR spectrometer
Applicant Varani Luca
Number 157699
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Istituto di ricerca in biomedicina (IRB) Facoltà di scienze biomedice
Institution of higher education Università della Svizzera italiana - USI
Main discipline Molecular Biology
Start/End 01.10.2015 - 30.09.2016
Approved amount 556'756.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Molecular Biology
Cellular Biology, Cytology

Keywords (7)

Antibodies; Chemokines; Cancer; Transcription factors; Nuclear Magnetic Resonance; Protein dynamics; Structural biology

Lay Summary (Italian)

L’Istituto di Ricerca in Biomedicina (IRB) e l’Istituto Oncologico di Ricerca (IOR) intendono acquisire uno spettrometro di risonanza magnetica nucleare (NMR), una tecnologia attualmente assente nella Svizzera Italiana.
Lay summary

Conoscere la struttura e dinamica delle molecole biologiche è fondamentale per scoprire come funzionano ed è una componente importante per capire e curare le malattie. L’NMR permette di determinare la struttura di biomolecole in soluzione ed è particolarmente utile per la caratterizzazione di interazioni tra molecole. Inoltre, l’NMR è l’unica tecnica sperimentale per ottenere informazioni dettagliate sulla flessibilità delle biomolecole.
Sei gruppi di ricerca di IRB e IOR hanno presentato specifici progetti NMR nei campi di immunologia, cancro e malattie infettive trascurate dalla ricerca farmaceutica commerciale. Si intende anche avviare progetti di metabolomica nel prossimo futuro. Questo è solo l’inizio: è indubbio che moltissimi progetti futuri di IRB e IOR potranno avvalersi dell’accesso diretto ad una macchina NMR.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.11.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Specificity, cross-reactivity, and function of antibodies elicited by Zika virus infection.
Stettler Karin, Beltramello Martina, Espinosa Diego A, Graham Victoria, Cassotta Antonino, Bianchi Siro, Vanzetta Fabrizia, Minola Andrea, Jaconi Stefano, Mele Federico, Foglierini Mathilde, Pedotti Mattia, Simonelli Luca, Dowall Stuart, Atkinson Barry, Percivalle Elena, Simmons Cameron P, Varani Luca, Blum Johannes, Baldanti Fausto, Cameroni Elisabetta, Hewson Roger, Harris Eva, Lanzavecchia Antonio, Sallusto Federica (2016), Specificity, cross-reactivity, and function of antibodies elicited by Zika virus infection., in Science (New York, N.Y.), 353(6301), 823-6.
Translocon component Sec62 acts in endoplasmic reticulum turnover during stress recovery.
Fumagalli Fiorenza, Noack Julia, Bergmann Timothy J, Cebollero Presmanes Eduardo, Pisoni Giorgia Brambilla, Fasana Elisa, Fregno Ilaria, Galli Carmela, Loi Marisa, Soldà Tatiana, D'Antuono Rocco, Raimondi Andrea, Jung Martin, Melnyk Armin, Schorr Stefan, Schreiber Anne, Simonelli Luca, Varani Luca, Wilson-Zbinden Caroline, Zerbe Oliver, Hofmann Kay, Peter Matthias, Quadroni Manfredo, Zimmermann Richard, Molinari Maurizio (2016), Translocon component Sec62 acts in endoplasmic reticulum turnover during stress recovery., in Nature cell biology, 18(11), 1173-1184.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Lectures at the University of Padova Individual talk Characterization and rational engineering of human anti-dengue antibodies 21.04.2016 Padova, Italy Varani Luca;

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Che cosa fa un ricercatore? Italian-speaking Switzerland 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
141254 Human B cells and plasma cells in health and diseases 01.06.2012 Project funding
138518 Antibody-antigen interactions in Dengue virus 01.05.2012 Project funding
182270 Characterization of antibody-antigen interactions in human pathogens 01.04.2019 Project funding
166445 Characterization of antibody-antigen interactions in human pathogens 01.04.2016 Project funding
153099 Promoter-proximal long non-coding RNAs and epigenetic regulatory networks in prostate cancer 01.04.2014 Project funding
140616 Analysis of molecular and cellular mechanisms in immune-mediated tissue damage of the skin: Hidradenitis suppurativa as a model disease 01.07.2012 Project funding
147662 Tuning of immune homeostasis and immune response by persistent viral infections 01.08.2013 Sinergia
140704 Conventional and atypical chemokine receptors: different mechanisms of function and common responses 01.06.2012 Project funding
143718 Impact of Synergy-inducing Molecules on Chemokine Activities 01.01.2013 Project funding


With this joint application, the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB) and Institute of Oncology Research (IOR) request funds to assist with the purchase of a 600MHz NMR spectrometer equipped with high-sensitivity cryoprobe and the tools necessary for structural and dynamic analysis of biomolecules in solution as well as metabolomics. 4 independent group leaders from IRB and one from IOR are submitting specific projects within this proposal. Several other group leaders from both institutions have expressed interest in running NMR experiments, both for structural characterization and metabolic analysis. Furthermore, companies and other research institutions from Ticino have formally expressed the desire to have future access to a local NMR spectrometer. Four IRB research groups have used NMR in recently published work, arising from short term access to machines in other countries within and outside Europe. Research projects have not been pursued due to lack of access to a local NMR and the IRB external Scientific Advisory Board has recommended the acquisition of an NMR spectrometer. Its availability will help answer questions raised by current research topics of IRB and IOR groups and, just as importantly, open new research areas and strengthen our position in new research grant applications. The IRB was founded in 2000 and has since then gained an international reputation as a leading center of excellence in immunology research.. The IRB offers 1’400 m2 of laboratory space, including tissue culture rooms, BSL2 and 3 laboratories and an animal facility. IRB has major core facilities to support research, including an imaging facility for flow cytometry, cell sorting, and advanced microscopy and a gene expression and protein production (GEPP) facility. IRB is structured into 9 research groups with ?95 employees. IRB scientists have achieved remarkable results published in more than 390 articles, with an average impact factor of 10.8. IRB also provides teaching and training programmes for graduate students from Swiss and foreign Universities. IRB also serves as the primary scientific catalyst for the Canton of Ticino, maintaining close contact and having produced collaborative, high-impact publications with the San Giovanni Cantonal Hospital, the Cantonal Pathology Institute, the Cantonal Microbiology Institute, Universita’ della Svizzera Italiana, the Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana, and the CSCS Swiss Supercomputer Centre.The IOR is part of the Istituto Oncologico della Svizzera Italiana (IOSI), a comprehensive cancer center with clinical and research facilities within the Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale in the Canton Ticino. started its activity in 2003. Currently IOR hosts 4 independent research group with 40 employees. The IOR is actively involved in educational and training of undergraduate, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows in collaboration with Universities in Switzerland and other European countries. The IOR runs a doctoral program in experimental oncology in collaboration with the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and Lausanne (UNIL), and is affiliated as academic institute to the UNIL. The Institute’s research programs range from molecular oncology and pharmacology to functional genomics in diverse types of cancer. The experimental therapeutics program is an interdisciplinary program that includes basic researchers at the IOR and clinicians at the IOSI and deals mainly with preclinical development of new cancer therapeutics and translation into phase 1/first in man clinical trials. Collaborations are in place with all the clinical and research centers in the Canton Ticino (IRB, ICPL, ISDIA, CSCS, ICS-USI). Knowledge of the structure and dynamics of biomolecules is fundamental to understanding their function and is therefore a vital component of our ability to understand and treat human disease. Solution NMR spectroscopy is able to elucidate structure of biological macromolecules in solution. It is particularly valuable in the characterization of intermolecular interactions, even for weak binding affinities or transient states that cannot be approached by X-Ray crystallography. Furthermore, NMR is the only experimental techniques that can provide dynamic information for biomolecules with atomic details. Finally, solution NMR spectroscopy provides a rapid, convenient and exhaustive technique for metabolomics studies. Our application demonstrates how 6 research projects of relevance to immunology, structural biology and cancer, from independently funded Group Leaders, will be advanced by access to the requested equipment. Metabolomics projects not explicitly described in this proposal are already being planned by other IRB and IOR Group Leaders should an NMR machine be available. These projects are but the “tip of the iceberg”, when one considers the vast array of different fields where structural characterization of biomolecules and metabolomics are important. There is little doubt that almost all the IRB and IOR current and future projects will be enriched by local access to an NMR facility.