A specialist in nuclear magnetic resonance, Cross has created a consortium of 13 top scientists from around the country, who have brought their own technologies…to work together on a common goal.
Timothy A. Cross
Director, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Program
Tuberculosis and influenza are killers. Between 2-3 million people worldwide die each year from tuberculosis, and 36,000 in America alone die from complications of the flu.
As Director of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Program, Dr. Tim Cross has taken up the fight to rid the world of these killers. “We're working on two sets of proteins that have the potential of being important for the pharmaceutical industry and mankind,” he says. “A few anti-influenza virus drugs are on the market, but they have serious side effects. Unless it’s a life and death situation, they're generally not prescribed.”
It’s the same with multiple drug resistant strains of tuberculosis. “There’s not been a new drug on the market for 30 years.” One-third of the world’s human population is a carrier of tuberculosis, but they won’t suffer symptoms unless their immune systems are compromised, as with AIDS victims. The tuberculosis emerges from its latent phase and attacks.
Membrane proteins may be the key. Says Cross, “If we could get the structural information on these proteins, a more specific drug could be designed.” A specialist in nuclear magnetic resonance, Cross has created a consortium of 13 top scientists from around the country, who have brought their own technologies—x-ray crystallography, electron microscopy, high-resolution mass spectrometry, and computational biochemistry—to work together on a common goal. The National Institutes of Health will fund the project over the next five years with an $8 million grant.
“The research is exciting at many different levels,” says Cross, “and a great challenge for my eight graduate students and several post-doctoral students to participate in. Once understood, the structural information can be published in the public sector—after all, we’re in the public funding sector—and everyone will have access to it.”