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Until recently, scientists wishing to study chemical and biological molecules in their natural setting using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) had to perform hundreds or thousands of independent unidimensional measurements, which later had to be combined to obtain a multidimensional spectral image. Collecting such multi-dimensional data would therefore take several minutes, hours or even days.
Prof. Lucio Frydman of the Weizmann Institute’s Chemical Physics Department has developed a method for performing extremely fast multidimensional NMR measurements – within about a tenth of a second, the time that used to be needed for making a single unidimensional measurement. The new method combines NMR with principles of magnetic resonance imaging. Frydman’s invention allows scientists around the world to investigate a variety of molecules in their natural environment and in real time – tracking such dynamic changes as the folding of a protein molecule.
Frydman further proved the feasibility of endowing these multidimensional NMR measurements with an unprecedented level of sensitivity. This idea involves combining ultrafast NMR with dynamic nuclear hyper-polarization, making it possible to analyze the targeted molecules at very low concentrations. Among other uses, these studies are important for testing natural molecules, analyzing metabolism, and designing and developing new drugs.
“It’s not easy to immigrate to a different country and integrate into a different culture. I was born and raised in Argentina, and after completing my Ph.D. studies moved to the United States, where at age 34 I became a full professor at the University of Illinois. Still, I was missing something – a feeling of home, which I gained upon moving to Israel. Professionally, the Weizmann Institute allows me to realize my full potential.”
“I chose to be photographed against the background of Nahal Tsin, not far from the house in which Israel’s first Prime Minister used to live. David Ben-Gurion’s vision and courage have always inspired me. And the open expanses of the Negev are conducive to calm and new thoughts.”