Research Communications

Chen receives NSF CAREER grant for analytical chemistry research, student engagement 

By Andrea Gibson
Feb. 27, 2012

Hao Chen, an assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant to develop a device that will advance analytical chemistry research. The award also will support student research opportunities.

The highly competitive grant is the foundation’s most prestigious award for junior faculty educators and scholars. Chen received a five-year, $574,000 award.

 Hao Chen
Hao Chen

The faculty member will use the funding to develop a microsecond, time-resolved mass spectrometry device that can track fast biochemical reactions such as protein folding and DNA oxidation. These reactions have been linked to the development of disease.

The equipment will aid in the study of new drug candidates, as Chen will be able to examine how different compounds bind to proteins, a key issue in creating pharmaceutical treatments.

The grant also will support the addition of a laboratory experiment for undergraduate chemistry courses, he said. Students will learn how antioxidants protect DNA from free radical damage.

“This is very important for our undergraduates, as it will help them develop an interest in research,” he noted.

The NSF award also will support one graduate student stipend and undergraduate research opportunities in Chen’s laboratory.

In addition, the scientist will visit area elementary schools and middle school classrooms to demonstrate basic concepts in chemistry.

Chen, who joined Ohio University in 2007, previously has received National Science Foundation funding to support his development of new technologies for analytical chemistry work. He has a patent pending on a mass spectrometry technique he devised that could help other researchers identify new drug candidates.

In related news, Chen has received the Ronald A. Hites Award for outstanding original research. The national award is given annually for an exemplary paper published in the previous two volumes of the Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, a flagship journal in the mass spectrometry field.