Guido Verbeck, associate professor of chemistry and director of UNT’s Imaging Mass Spectrometry lab, recently received a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CRPIT) grant award totaling $181,419. CPRIT's mission is to fund high impact and high innovation to aggressively create tools and methods to fight the war on cancer. And Verbeck’s project will do just that.
Using advanced mass spectrometry and nanoscale manipulation techniques and instrumentation, Verbeck will map the subcellular chemistry of a single cell. Or, in lay terms, the project will allow analysis of the tiniest of human cells to help determine treatment options for cancer patients.
What factors have contributed to your successful research agenda?
“Specifically to this project, my collaborations with Dr. Kent Chapman and Dr. Robby Petros fueled the innovation of this new tool. With Dr. Chapman we were able to show the first single organelle chemistry from cotton seed, leading to the work on human cancer. Petros, a renowned expert in protein and cancer chemistry, has utilized the new nanomanipulator tool to perform one-bead one-compound work and teach our group about cancer cell culturing. Through these collaborations, we are able to solve both diagnosis and treatment issues around our similar interests. UNT has supported this project with internal seed money, instrumentation, and a collaborative work environment. This is why we succeed.”
Describe how your research and teaching activities contribute to UNT’s Four Bold Goals?
Goal 1: Providing the Best Undergraduate Education.
“This instrument has been used within my group and the forensic chemistry course to teach students on cutting edge instrumentation. I have decided that teaching the undergraduates on new and novel tools gives them an advantage over the conventionally trained student. I have made it an effort for my lab and the Laboratory for Imaging Mass Spectrometry to be used as a training ground for undergrad research and education. This nanomanipulator tool for forensic and biochemical applications is just one of many of our instruments that are available for undergrads, and found nowhere else.”
Goal 2: Provide superior graduate education, scholarship and artistic endears and achieve status among the nation’s tier one research institutions.
“The research for this tool has been funded by the Department of Defense for forensic applications and the State of Texas (CPRIT) for cancer research. These awards have supported five doctoral students and produced five peer reviewed publications (to date), achieving national recognition. Again, these students have the unique opportunity to work on cutting edge instrumentation and shape the future of the field with these tools.”
Goal 4: Establish UNT as a nationally recognized, engaged university and regional leader by building and expanding mutually beneficial partnerships and resources.
“This tool comes from a collaborative effort on instrument design between my group and DCG (formally Zyvex), a leader in the region on manipulation tools. The new instrumentation and methods developed on this CPRIT project will create a tool that DCG can market and develop for widespread use. Once this tool and methods are firmly established, research medical institutions can further the knowledge of single cell chemistry across the region, US, and hopefully beyond.”
Verbeck’s innovative research, collaborative approach, and pioneering spirit are the perfect formula for success. In 2011, Verbeck received UNT’s Early Career Award for Research Creativity, as well as Professor of the Year from Alpha Chi Sigma. No doubt, Verbeck is making a difference on the UNT campus and contributing to the fight against cancer one tiny cell at a time.
Faculty Spotlight highlights UNT faculty members throughout the academic year. Each spotlight includes the research interests, scholarly accomplishments, student support activities and other academic achievements by the highlighted faculty member.
(Photos pertaining to this article by Jonathan Reynolds)