September 2012

Researchers Simplify Protein Purification

Ellen Brune, doctoral student and entrepreneur

Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have developed a method to simplify the pharmaceutical production of proteins used in drugs that treat a variety of diseases and health conditions, including diabetes, cancer, arthritis and macular degeneration.

With assistance from the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program,

Ellen Brune, the primary researcher and inventor of the technology, has started a company to shorten development time so that new drugs can get to patients faster. Current protein pharmaceutical development is a complicated, time-consuming and expensive process because manufacturers must separate and extract contaminant proteins.

Brune, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, created a series of custom strains of the bacteria Escherichia coli that express minimized sets of contaminants or "nuisance" proteins. Brune then sought assistance to commercialize the technology. In an entrepreneurship class taught by Carol Reeves, associate vice provost for entrepreneurship and management professor in the Sam M. Walton College of Business, Brune created Boston Mountain Biotech LLC, a research and biotechnology firm that will save significant time by preparing the proteins for the manufacturing process.

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James Rankin

Greetings from the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development!

I hope that you enjoy The Arkansas Catalyst, the first monthly newsletter from the Office of Research and Economic Development. The newsletter will be used to highlight exciting research and economic development activities on the University of Arkansas campus as well as

alert you to potential new opportunities.

This first issue features an entrepreneurial team, introduces you to the new director of the High Performance Computing Center and updates you on a way to learn about new gran opportunities.

Each month will feature university researchers, new research funding awards and faculty receiving patents. The newsletter will introduce you to staff in different office departments, including Research Support and Sponsored Programs, Research Compliance, the Technology Licensing and the Arkansas Research and Technology Park. We will also use the newsletter to announce new researcher tools.

The Office of Research and Economic Development is working to enhance the university research enterprise, including multi-disciplinary research. Last year, the campus focused on health research through campus wide meetings. Notices about future meetings, upcoming workshops, brown bag lunches and collaborative opportunities will be included in our newsletter.

We hope that this newsletter will be useful to the research community. If you have suggestions on topics that should be included, please let us know.


Jim Rankin
Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development

Arkansas High Performance Computing Center

New Director Takes the Helm

Rick McMullen, former director of research computing at the University of Kansas, has been appointed director of the High Performance Computing Center.

At the University of Arkansas, McMullen will also serve as a faculty member in the College of Engineering's department of computer science and computer engineering.

"The University of Arkansas

has a strong high-performance computing program that supports science and engineering research important to the state and nation," McMullen said. "I am very pleased to join this team of accomplished researchers and computing experts."

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Research and Sponsored Programs

New Service Offers Help for Grant Writers

Need some help with that next grant? The University of Arkansas now works with Hanover Grants to provide specialized assistance to faculty in writing, editing and reviewing grant proposals. These limited services are offered in a first-come, first served basis. To request this service, send a query to along with a solicitation to secure a position in the Hanover Queue. Please contact Dennis Brewer, the RSSP director, for more information.

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Researchers Simplify Protein Purification


Arkansas High Performance Computing Center

Research and Sponsored Programs


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