Nyborg Lab in the Media

CSU team awarded $7.8 million NIH grant

Originally published May 5, 2010

From left, Jennifer Nyborg, Karolin Luger and Laurie Stargell will look at how chromosomes expose genes.       

A team of Colorado State University biochemists will receive a $7.8 million grant to investigate how chromosomes untangle to expose genes that dictate cell behavior.

The National Institutes of Health on Monday awarded professors Jennifer Nyborg and Laurie Stargell and University Distinguished Professor Karolin Luger the five-year grant to study how nucleosome packages DNA into chromosomes.

Nyborg serves as the principal investigator on the NIH grant, known as a Program of Projects, which is expected to provide funding for as many as 15 post-doctoral positions, graduate students and technicians.

"The question that we're asking is very fundamental to life, and the environment here at CSU — and in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology — gives us a significant edge," Nyborg said. The Denver Post


Resources for Media

Unraveling How Chromosomes Impact Cell Behavior

Published May 3, 2010

Team of Biochemists Receives $7.8 Million Grant from the National Institutes of Health to Study How Chromosomes Unravel to Let Genes Do Their Jobs

A team of top biochemists at Colorado State University will investigate how chromosomes untangle to expose genes that dictate cell behavior – a unique project that could have a significant impact on understanding human health.

The National Institutes of Health today announced it has awarded Professor Jennifer Nyborg, University Distinguished Professor Karolin Luger and Professor Laurie Stargell a $7.8 million, five-year grant to study how the basic unit that tightly packages DNA into chromosomes, known as a nucleosome, unfolds and disassembles to expose genes that give cells their biological traits.

Valuable collaboration

"Fostering collaboration between scientists can ultimately lead to very important breakthroughs and greater understanding of how DNA works," said Tony Frank, president of Colorado State University. "Pooling our strengths in these areas creates great potential. This grant from NIH is an endorsement that Colorado State University is home to some of the top scientists addressing basic science with the potential to solve global health concerns."

Jennifer Nyborg, Professor Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on:
"Key Question of the Research".

"My Piece of the Puzzle"

Karolin Luger, University Distinguished Professor Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on:
"Revealing Genetic Information"

Laurie Stargell, Professor Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on:
"My Piece of the Project"


CSU tries on genes for size

$1.2 million grant will help shed light on genetic disorders, cancer


Originally published Tuesday, January 27, 2004

      The human genome has been successfully decoded, but there are many more DNA secrets for scientists to unlock.

     Colorado State University researchers will try to answer a key question: How and why are certain genes within cells activated?

     Funded by a $1.2 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation announced Monday, four faculty members will bring together their biochemistry expertise in the Program in Chromatin Structure and Function.

     In addition to expanding basic scientific knowledge about genes, the research could have broad health implications by increasing understanding of human development and diseases.

     "It's the area that's going to be on the forefront in making breakthroughs in understanding and treating diseases such as cancer," said Paul Laybourn, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology.

     "Many diseases are caused by genes not being turned on when they should be or being turned on when they shouldn't be," he said.

     Understanding how that happens will allow scientists to target and develop treatments for genetic disorders and cancer, Laybourn said.

     The scientific community and the public looked forward to the completion of the DNA sequence of the human genome, biochemistry professor Jennifer Nyborg said in a statement.

     "However, knowledge of how individual cells of the body control which genes are active and which are not is still extremely limited, and  without this knowledge, the applications of a decoded human genome are also limited," she added.

     Chromatin, a substance in the nucleus of a cell, is made up of DNA and basic histone proteins.

     Each cell has up to 40,000 genes located in a nucleus about five microns in diameter. If the DNA were stretched out, it would be 5 feet long, Nyborg said in an interview.

     "If the nucleus were the size of a golf ball, you'd have to fit 10 miles of DNA in it," Nyborg said.

     "In every single case, every cell, some genes are on and some genes are off, and it has to be highly regulated. ... All life on Earth depends on genes being accurately regulated."

     Nyborg, Karolin Luger, Laybourn and Jeffrey Hansen will work on understanding how genes in each cell are regulated in their highly

compacted structure.

     Norman Curthoys, chairman of CSU's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, said that is going to be the way researchers study genes in the future.

     "What we've been studying (in the Human Genome Project) is a little glimpse of what really happens, because in a cell DNA is (contained) in chromatin, which influences how the genes function," he said.

    With four world-class faculty members in the areas of molecular and structural biochemistry, CSU is an international leader in the field. Prior to receiving the Keck grant, CSU had established facilities for X-ray crystalography and protein expression research, allocating about $1.2 million for the work.

     The Keck grant will allow researchers to purchase more state-of-the-art equipment and pay for the salaries of technicians to oversee the equipment. Curthoys said it also will raise CSU's international profile and could lead to more funding for biochemistry research.

     "It gives us the chance to create an area of recognition," he said. And it allows CSU researchers to build on the knowledge of the Human Genome Project, which mapped out the sequence of human DNA. The next step is unraveling how DNA is expressed.

     "It's really a black box in biology," Nyborg said. "We have no idea how it occurs because it's a very difficult thing to study."Karolin Luger, University Distinguished Professor Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on:

"Revealing Genetic Information"


Melissa CSU promo

FUN FACT: In 2007 the Nyborg Lab Website (www.nyborglab.com) was awarded the People's Choice Award in The Scientist's Laboratory Web and Video Awards.

The Nyborg Lab at Colorado State University © 2012