11.10.2021: Meet Lei Zheng - Recipient of the 2021 SURFE²R N1 Research Grant
Meet Lei Zheng
Earlier this year, Nanion announced the SURFE²R N1 research grant, which gave applicants the opportunity to acquire a SURFE²R N1 instrument for a 9-month period; inclusive of consumables, training and consultation.
After a lenghty and throughout evaluation of the rather extensive number and variety of applications, the SURFE²R N1 grant evaluation committee Dr. Andre Bazzone, Dr. Cecilia George, and Dr. Maria Barthmes (Nanion Technologies) have come to a decision:
2021 SURFE²R N1 Research Grant Committe
(Dr. Andre Bazzone, Dr. Cecilia George, and Dr. Maria Barthmes)
We were overwhelmed by the number and quality of the proposals this year and we thank all of the applicants for putting in such a lot of time and effort in their applications. We had a very difficult job but we thoroughly enjoyed reading each and every one of the proposals. As such, we took the bold initiative to award an unprecedented four total winners! We would like to congratulate Jonai Pujol (Winner - Europe), Edmund Kunji (Winner - UK), Lei Zheng (Winner - North America), and Ronald Clarke (Winner - Australia)
We have created a plan to deliver the systems to their respective labs, which we hope will be later on this year (COVID-19 permitting) and are excited for their research initiatives to begin. Additionally, we aim to provide external support to all applicants in the near future and have created a plan to provide local support from our offices in Europe, North America, Japan and China.
We look forward to supporting the Membrane Transporter Community and leading the way with all of your innovative ideas in the months to come.
Interview with Lei Zheng, University of Texas, Houston, USA
Hi Lei, congratulations on your win! What are you planning to do with SURFE²R N1 in your laboratory?
Lei Zheng: “We plan to characterize sodium/calcium changer NCX protein using SURFE²R N1. NCX is an essential membrane transport protein for maintaining Ca2+ homeostasis in the heart and brain. Dysfunction of NCX is associated with many cardiovascular diseases including heart failure, arrhythmias, and stroke. We will measure the transport activity of NCX reconstituted in proteoliposomes to understand its transport mechanism in defined membrane environments. In addition, we will also characterize proton/calcium exchanger YfkE. We have solved the crystal structure of YfkE yearly ago. However, several questions regarding the mechanism of H+/Ca2+ exchange remain unsolved. We hope to answer those questions using SURFE²R N1 as well.”
Nanion: Why did you apply for the SURFE²R N1 Grant?
Lei Zheng: “My lab studies the structure and function of Ca2+ transporter proteins. I always admire my neighboring lab to quickly characterize their channels using an electrophysiological recording. Due to the low turnover rate, it is difficult to detect the activity of transporters using standard electrophysiological approaches, in particular for reconstituted protein samples. The only approach is currently available in the lab is a radiolabeled transport assay using a filtration manifold. However, the information obtained from this approach is very limited and the data are not easy to reproduce. This SURFE²R N1 grant provides us a great opportunity to quickly measure transport activity in real-time, and more importantly, no radiolabeled materials are needed!“
Nanion: Which properties of the SURFE²R will be of benefit to your research?
Lei Zheng: “We love several features of SURFE²R N1: 1) fast recording; 2) real-time measurement; 3) multiple data from one sample; 4) automation of liquid handling for a better reproducibility; 5) capable of measuring both inward and outward transport modes; 6) not limited by the availability of radiolabeled substrates. Did I say enough?”
Read more about Lei Zheng's research here
Watch The Video Announcement - Lei Zheng (University of Texas - Houston)