PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University has been awarded a $495,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to purchase a high performance mass spectrometer. The new instrument will be located in WSU’s new Biological Mass Spectrometry Center and will expand research and teaching in biotechnology, and molecular and plant biology.

“The instrument is currently the most powerful and sensitive mass spectrometer available,” said WSU President Lane V. Rawlins, “and will allow WSU faculty to do experiments in proteomics and protein characterization that were impossible before. This will be the first, high-field instrument at a university in the Northwest and is part of our initiative to become world class in biotechnology.”

Professor of chemistry James Bruce, who came to WSU in the fall from Merck Laboratories in Pennsylvania, heads the center. Bruce did his early studies at the Environmental and Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL) at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at Hanford and at Novartis Institute of Functional Genomics in San Diego. He expects the new spectrometer to strengthen WSU/EMSL collaborations as well as to support ongoing research by more than 15 groups in the Colleges of Sciences, Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine. He also plans to conduct his own research on the structure of biologically significant molecules–especially proteins, using the new equipment.

According to the Murdock Trust’s senior program director John Van Zytveld, the award of the grant speaks to the quality of WSU programs, particularly because every application is reviewed by scientists from other institutions who comment on “the quality of the science, the expertise of the faculty investigators and the appropriateness of the instrument for the proposed research. They also comment on the institutional commitment to the program under consideration.”

WSU will provide additional funding to cover the remainder of the cost of the Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance mass spectrometer, which costs $800,000.

The M.J. Murdock Trust was created in 1975 by the will of the late Melvin “Jack” Murdock, the co-founder of Tektronix, Inc. of Beaverton, Ore., and is now one of the five largest private foundations in the Pacific Northwest.