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Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) is one of two U. S. Department of Energy national security labs in New Mexico. In that capacity, Sandia conducts research in two areas – biofuels and biodefense – that aim to provide biological solutions to critical challenges in energy and homeland security.
Sandia researchers are working to achieve environmental goals and reduce U. S. dependence on foreign oil by developing next generation conversion technologies for creating “drop-in” transportation biofuels derived from both non-food plant sources and algae.
Basic and applied research at Sandia is addressing the threats posed by biological agents. This is accomplished by integrating engineering, nanotechnology, and computational capabilities to detect and characterize biothreats, as well as diagnose and cure disease.
A broad suite of science and engineering disciplines and talent are available to bioscientists at Sandia. They can develop and apply tools at the interface of physical, computational, and biological sciences to create novel and imaginative solutions to critical problems.
Responding to the need to perform large numbers of biology experiments rapidly while using minimal amounts of biological sample, Sandia has developed microfluidic chips or tiny devices that take micro samples through the entire analysis process at high speed. These chips enable rapid and economic research in new biological frontiers.
Sandia’s efforts in computational biology are leading to new algorithms, simulation methods, and software tools. By applying our high performance computing capabilities to bioinformatics, molecular biophysics, biochemistry, modeling, and complex biological systems, Sandia is creating new computational biology tools and computing architectures. These tools drive experimental work by enabling researchers to describe, model, and predict the behavior of cells, networks, pathways, and molecules.
The Sandia bioscience program leverages expertise in systems engineering built over more than 60 years to enable fully integrated devices for both biodefense and biofuels research. Capabilities include state-of-the-art microfabrication facilities, MESA, on-site advanced manufacturing machine shops, and rapid prototyping laboratories.
The integration of silica and other nanomaterials with such biological molecules as lipids and proteins holds immense promise for many applications, including ultra-small platforms for rapid delivery of drugs and vaccines. Sandia researchers are developing a large variety of nanomaterial platforms for biological applications, including protocells and virus-like particles (VLP).
To gain deeper understanding of cells, proteins, and DNA, as well as their interactions, Sandia researchers employ cutting-edge optical microscopy and imaging tools at increasingly sharp levels of resolution. As an example, super-resolution microscopy methods are being developed with optical approaches that offer effective resolutions below the diffraction limit.
LANL’s interest in biosciences dates from its very early days, when the Atomic Energy Commission established Health Research Units in wartime laboratories to investigate the effects of radiation on living organisms. Throughout the decades since, LANL has developed computer codes to understand DNA and proteins, a genetic-sequence database, and other instruments, such as the flow cytometer, to analyze and sort cells. Eventually, LANL started the research into, and was an active player in, the Human Genome Project.
Today LANL is utilizing these capabilities to contribute to the development of biofuels and other bioproducts. The work includes developing a comprehensive, genomics-based, understanding of organisms to create enhanced algae strains with better lipid production, development of better conversion processes, as well as more efficient harvesting techniques.
Established in 2006, NMC partners with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in order to develop, implement and continually improve models that encourage and support collaborative research across its partner institutions, including the University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University and New Mexico Tech. Science is increasingly collaborative and the NMC was formed to anticipate what it takes for LANL, universities and industry to work together.
Within NMC’s broad range of research areas, three fall within the biosciences:
Biofuel research at the NMC includes developing photosynthetic carbon reduction pathways in green algae and plants, research on synthetic carbon fixation pathways to meet domestic energy demands and sustainable production, improving photosynthetic efficiency and carbon concentrating efficiency in biofuel feedstocks, and investigating strategies for containment of organisms that affect the health/yield of the algae essential for biofuel production.
Biomedical and Human Health
NMC researchers study microbiology, immunology, structural biology, bioinformatics, genome research and modeling. This combination of capabilities along with the cutting-edge NMC research facilities enables our scientists to carry out forefront basic research on the role of immune systems in countering major pathogen threats.
Plant Biology and Agricultural Research
NMC’s Biological Laboratory provides state-of-the-art facilities to researchers from the NMC. LANL, universities and industry. The Laboratory includes a 12,000 SF general use wet laboratory facility, specialized laboratories, and a 4,000 SF research greenhouse. The combination of capabilities and facilities enables scientists at the NMC to carry out forefront basic research on the role of immune systems in countering major pathogen threats.
UNM’s Health Sciences Center includes a medical school, colleges of nursing and pharmacy, four hospitals, and the Cancer Research and Treatment Center. In 2005, the UNM HSC reorganized its research efforts into Signature Research Programs:
A land-grant institution founded in 1888, NMSU is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. Annual research expenditures at NMSU exceed $100 million. According to the National Science Foundation, NMSU ranks eighth in research expenditures by Hispanic Serving Institutions.
Medical and Health Sciences
NMSU scientists work in a number of biomedical disciplines, including emerging pathogens; vector-borne diseases; cancer therapies, tumor genesis and growth patterns; genetics; neuroscience; cell and developmental biology; and biomedical applications.
Energy and Biofuels
NMSU researchers are actively harnessing and utilizing sustainable energy from renewable sources. Research efforts are focused in algal biofuels; microgrids; solar and wind energy; and fuel cells.
Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Genetics
NMSU faculty study fundamental biological problems at the organismal, cellular, and molecular levels, through the disciplines of biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics. Research in this area includes drought- and disease-resistance genes in plants and livestock, and multiple projects to study their genetic characteristics, protein structure and function, cell-cycle events, organ development, and human-pathogen interaction.
Research and scholarly activity is critical in the academic realms of the biomedical sciences, clinical sciences, and educational sciences. BCOM supports and encourages the active pursuit of research in the biomedical and clinical sciences, in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, and in medical education. Research at BCOM is driven by faculty interests in four major areas:
The BCOM Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP) operates a core biomedical science laboratory at the Arrowhead Park Genesis Center that is available to faculty and students working under the guidance of faculty.
Lovelace is the nation’s largest independent, not-for-profit organization conducting basic and applied research on the causes and treatments of respiratory illness and disease. Founded in 1947 as a not-for-profit corporation, today LRRI operates in a 500,000 SF facility with an annual budget of nearly $100 million. The Institute employs 120 PhD-level scientists and about 700 technicians and support staff.
Research areas include asthma, emphysema, lung cancer, inhalation toxicology, aerosol science, inhalation drug delivery, bronchitis, allergies, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, infectious disease, radiation studies, chemical exposure research, clinical trials, specialized software for laboratory research and neurobiological research.
In 2016, LRRI rebranded is pharmaceutical research and development as Lovelace Biomedical. Respiratory research activities at Lovelace Biomedical include major programs in fundamental lung biology, lung cancer detection and prevention, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, environmental inhalation hazards and more.