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In this issue:
Opening the Door to a New Class of Diabetes Drugs—Robotically
symmetry: Donors Dream Big
McCallum-Turner Reviews SLAC's Facility Management

SLAC Today

Monday - September 24, 2007

Opening the Door to a New Class of Diabetes Drugs—Robotically

Graphic depicting the structure of the protein MitoNEET. (Courtesy Mark Paddock, UCSD. Click on image for larger version.)

A team led by researchers from the University of California, San Diego, has determined the structure of a protein in cells that shows potential as a target for new drugs to treat diabetes. The study, published September 4 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, described the structure of the protein, called MitoNEET, that was previously identified as a site where diabetes drugs could operate. The researchers say that MitoNEET has a novel three-dimensional structure that makes it a particularly interesting candidate for the design of innovative compounds that can bind to it.

Herb Axelrod and Aina Cohen of the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) collaborated with the UCSD researchers. All data used to determine the structure of MitoNEET were obtained using SSRL macromolecular crystallography beamlines 9-2 and 11-1, which employ state-of-the-art robotically operated sample handling systems.

"This is the first time that a protein like this has ever been found," said Patricia Jennings, a professor in UCSD's department of Chemistry and Biochemistry who led the study along with Mark Paddock, a project scientist in UCSD's Physics department. "It is a brand new structure, a unique beast, which makes it an exciting target for structure-based drug design." Read related press release...

Donors Dream Big

SLAC's Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, established with the aid of a grant from the Kavli foundation in 2006.

At first glance, particle physics seems to be a rather arid land in which to plant the seeds of philanthropy; much of the research in the field requires gigantic machines with budgets to match. Instead, many philanthropists prefer to put their money into areas such as medical research, where the science is more comprehensible and their investments have more immediate returns with clearer social benefits.

Yet while money for physics research still comes almost exclusively from government agencies, such as the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation in the United States, private donors are starting to have an impact, contributing millions and setting a path for others to follow.

The best-known examples of physics philanthropy are the Kavli institutes and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, as well as a surprising donation that allowed the Brookhaven National Laboratory accelerator to keep running after a severe budget cut. More modest gifts have made a difference, too, including endowments that fund professorships at universities. In all cases, the donors have a common trait: they are smitten by physics.  Read more...

McCallum-Turner Reviews SLAC's
Facility Management

Facility Management is the focus of this, the fourth SLAC Today article defining McCallum-Turner's 11 focus areas. McCallum-Turner hopes to receive comments and suggestions from everyone at the lab regarding SLAC's management and operations systems focus areas.

Facility Management provides infrastructure support, such as buildings and utilities, to enable scientific programs. Although the Facilities Department performs many of the roles of facility management, it is a de-centralized system and its functions are distributed among several offices, divisions and departments within the lab.

"We're looking at facilities management from a site-wide perspective," said Liam Robinson, the McCallum-Turner Facilities Management point of contact.

This site-wide perspective includes site strategic and space planning, facilities engineering, project management, construction management, maintenance, operations, and site services.

"That list best covers all of the areas we encompass," said Robinson. "We welcome all comments and suggestions that relate to these areas."

McCallum-Turner can by contacted with any ideas, comments or suggestions on Facilities Management or any of the other focus areas via e-mail at or by phone at 926-6200.

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