Regents approve purchase of state-of-the-art research instrument

by Vicky Cerino, UNMC public affairs | May 02, 2008

picture disc.
The Thermo Electron LTQ Orbitrap XL
The University of Nebraska Board of Regents recently approved UNMC's purchase of a Thermo Electron LTQ Orbitrap XL -- a tool to research the structure of molecules including proteins.

The $900,000 piece of equipment was purchased in part by federal funds and from UNMC's Tobacco Settlement Biomedical Research Development Fund.

The Orbitrap, which is about the size of two refrigerators, is a mass spectrometer that will be placed in the Durham Research Center.

It will be used primarily for research in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and HIV dementia. It also will be available to researchers who study other diseases.

"The Orbitrap ... fulfills a very special niche that adds to the suite of instruments we will use to study proteins," said Paula Turpen, Ph.D., UNMC director of research resources. "It's especially good at allowing researchers to find out how proteins have been modified."

Pawel Ciborowski, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience, will help researchers use the instrument. Dr. Ciborowski, director of the UNMC Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Core Facility, said the Orbitrap is at least one class above other mass spectrometers used in university research.

"It's cutting edge technology with superior resolution, is highly accurate, highly sensitive and will give us an opportunity to do research that we were unable to do up until now."

Pawel Ciborowski, Ph.D., on the Thermo Electron LTQ Orbitrap XL

"This is the first of its kind in Nebraska," Dr. Ciborowski said. "This is a top-of-the-line instrument made by Thermo Scientific. The big advantage of this instrument is the extraordinary accuracy in measuring molecules.

"It's cutting edge technology with superior resolution, is highly accurate, highly sensitive and will give us an opportunity to do research that we were unable to do up until now."

The instrument will help UNMC researchers advance their science and secure funding, Dr. Ciborowski said.

The Orbitrap was purchased by the UNMC Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience, and the UNMC office of vice chancellor for research. The Orbitrap is expected to arrive in the next two months.