LSU Professor Receives $800,000 Grant from NSF to Develop Mass Microscope


Dr. Kermit MurrayDr. Kermit Murray received NSF funding to develop a next-generation mass microscope. 

BATON ROUGE, September 4, 2020- Louisiana State University chemistry professor Kermit Murray will direct a three-year $836,650 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a next-generation mass microscope. Murray will team-up with chemistry professor Touradj Solouki at Baylor University to construct and test the new instrument.

The project will develop a simple, low-cost, and easy to use instrument that will bring high-performance biochemical imaging to a broad range of scientists in fundamental and translational biological research. The three-year project involves graduate students from the LSU and Baylor campuses who will construct and test the new device.

“The new instrument will have the precision of more expensive instruments but a much greater mass range,” Murray said. “It will be able to map protein and metabolite distributions in tissue down to the cellular level.”

The device uses a high-energy pulsed laser to remove small quantities of tissue. Proteins, lipids, and other molecules in the tissue are separated, counted, and weighed in a device known as a mass spectrometer.

“Mass spectrometry has the unique advantage of seeing all the molecules at once, large and small,” Murray said, “and we will use our new laser technique to pinpoint their location down to single cells.” 

The funding was awarded through the NSF Division of Biological Infrastructure’s Infrastructure Innovation for Biological Research program, which supports the development of novel instrumentation for basic biological research.

The Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI) supports “development and enhancement of resources for research, human capital, and mid-to-large-scale infrastructure and centers to promote advances in all areas of biological research.”