Appointment of Dr. David Weber and Dr. John Marino, Interim Co-directors of IBBR
I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. David Weber and Dr. John Marino as Interim Co-directors of the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research, effective September 1, 2020. Drs. Weber and Marino will lead IBBR in enhancing collaboration among the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in new directions in structural biology, biotherapeutics, and molecular design.
David Weber has served as Associate Director of IBBR and the Director of the Center for Biomolecular Therapeutics (CBT). He is a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the University of Maryland School of Medicine and in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Computer, Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Weber has also been the Director of the UMB Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Center (NMR) since 1993 and was the Director of Graduate Education for the Joint Program in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (from 2001 to 2011). He serves as an editorial member of more than 10 journals, and has authored more than 150 research articles and book chapters involving basic science and biomedical therapeutics advances.
As director of the CBT at the University of Maryland, Dr. Weber studies mechanisms involved in disease states, and drug development to treat them. Dr. Weber was co-director of a $7.9 million federal grant to acquire a superconducting 950 MHZ NMR magnet that is helping researchers better understand such molecules and develop new agents to treat cancer, AIDS, and other diseases. The grant made the University of Maryland the only academic institution in the US to have a 950MHZ NMR spectrometer, and one of only two sites in the country. The eight-ton magnet produces a supercharged magnetic field that enables scientists to investigate the three-dimensional structure and dynamic properties of biological molecules and how they are altered in disease states at atomic resolution.
A collaboration among the three IBBR partner institutions (University of Maryland, College Park; University of Maryland, Baltimore; National Institute for Standards and Technology) has established cryo-EM capabilities at the Maryland Center for Advanced Molecular Analysis (M-CAMA), located at IBBR. Dr. Weber was critical to establishment of this center at IBBR and serves as its director. Technological breakthroughs in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) have revolutionized the field of structural biology, especially for large protein complexes, viral assemblies, and membrane proteins.
M-CAMA researchers are using cryo-EM structure data to inform the design of small molecule drugs, biotherapeutics, and vaccines, as well as to gain insight into the molecular architecture of large protein complexes and viruses and insight into the dynamic flexibility of biomolecules.
Clearly, with extraordinary NMR, X-Ray crystallography and Cryo-EM Facilities, IBBR is equipped with state-of-the-art structural biology tools that are among the best in the country.
Dr. John Marino has served as Associate Director at IBBR and the Group Leader of the NIST Biomolecular Structure & Function Group at IBBR. He is also appointed adjunct professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a member of the Molecular and Cell Biology Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Marino’s research is focused on developing nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and other biophysical measurements to accurately and precisely define the conformational structure, stability, and dynamics of biomolecules and their interactions at a molecular level. In addition to enabling fundamental insights into biomolecular structure and function, Dr. Marino’s work provides innovative, practical methods that can form the basis for a robust measurement infrastructure supporting biopharmaceutical development and regulation.
As we welcome these new leaders, we also thank Dr. Tom Fuerst for his visionary leadership of IBBR since November 2013. Under Tom’s direction IBBR has realized significant progress in biologics platforms (e.g., tetravalent HIV Abs), small molecule discovery, vaccine development, targeted protease development and exceptional efforts in antibody characterization. Grant Funding and scientific publications have risen steadily under Tom’s leadership and a number of new highly productive researchers have been added as IBBR Fellows. Relieved of the burdens of administration, Tom can now focus on his outstanding research in biochemistry and molecular genetics and vaccine design and give his full attention to translating his basic research into drug development critical to human health.
Mary Ann Rankin, Ph.D.
Senior Vice President and Provost