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Research Newsletter-Spring/Summer 2008


Balz Frei, Ph.D.
LPI Director and Endowed Chair
Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics

Planning for the new $62.5-million Linus Pauling Science Center (LPSC) at Oregon State University is in full swing. As part of the programming phase for the building, we have had three two-day meetings over the last three months with our architect firm, Zimmer Gunsul Frasca LLC; laboratory design firm, Research Facilities Design; and general contractor, Andersen Construction Company. The principal results of this programming phase are that the building will house the Linus Pauling Institute, part of OSU's Department of Chemistry, including research and teaching laboratories, an instrument suite with Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) and electron microscopy equipment, a vivarium, and a state-of-the-art auditorium for teaching and conferences. We are now entering the schematic design phase, which will be followed by the design development phase and, eventually, the preparation of the detailed construction documents. These documents should be completed by early next year, allowing us to break ground for the building in the spring of 2009.

The Linus Pauling Institute will occupy at least one floor of LPSC, which will provide space for about 12 research laboratories, laboratory support facilities, a conference room and library, and offices and other support spaces for about 90 researchers and administrative staff. We currently have 10 research laboratories in the Institute spread over three buildings of the OSU campus and a total of 70 researchers and four administrative staff. The current plan is to move all but one of the existing research laboratories into the new building upon its completion, projected for late 2010. This will give us enough space in LPSC to expand by three research laboratories. As I mentioned in the last Research Newsletter, we are planning to use these new laboratories to establish and expand the Healthy Aging Program in LPI. The goal of this program is to better understand the underlying molecular and biological causes of aging and how diet and dietary factors can favorably influence the aging process and reduce the risk of age-related chronic diseases.

We have already started our search to fill the first position, which will be in the area of "epigenetics" in aging or immunosenescence. Epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in the DNA sequence, leading to differential gene expression—genes being turned "on" or "off," which can accelerate or delay aging and chronic disease. Immunosenescence refers to the causes of the age-related decline in immune function and how this can be slowed by diet and supplements. We have identified some outstanding candidates for this position and hope to fill it later this year. The other two positions will be in the molecluar biology of aging and in age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease.

The future has never looked brighter for LPI, and I am excited and grateful to be part of this transformation and growth of the Institute. The new knowledge emanating from the Healthy Aging Program and the other research laboratories in the Institute on the biology of aging and the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases will allow us to even better serve and advise the public and health-care professionals about a healthy diet, the right supplements, and a healthy lifestyle. It is only befitting that this research will be conducted in a building dedicated to one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century and the founder of our Institute, Dr. Linus Pauling.

Last updated June 2008