Since 2001, the Foundation has supported the California Institute of Technology to maintain its position at the forefront of higher education and scientific research and to help foster exciting, transformative discoveries for the future.
Again in 2008, the projects and research funded by the Foundation at Caltech have been defined by their remarkable innovation and consistently high productivity levels. Some of the extraordinary accomplishments in 2008 include the following:
- Using the Molecular Observatory for Structural Molecular Biology, David Chenoweth, a graduate student in Peter Dervan’s group solved a remarkable set of ~1 Å resolution structures of DNA-polyamide complexes that define molecular details at true atomic resolution.
- At the Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology, Barwick, Park, Kwon, Baskin, and Zewail (Science, 21 November 2008; Nano Letters, 11 November 2008) showed the first ever 4D images obtained with ultrafast electron microscopy for gold and graphite samples, demonstrating their structure, morphology, and function. With femtometer resolution, the scientists created “movies” showing that graphite produces coherent sound waves (“nanodrumming”) on the scale of tens of picoseconds.
- Through a research project to investigate the Neurobiological Foundations of Reward, Drenan et al. (Neuron 2008) genetically modified a receptor in mice that normally produces dopamine so that it became ultra-sensitive to nicotine and acetylcholine. When sensitized receptors were exposed to either neurotransmitter, they unleashed a torrent of dopamine, similar to ADHD responses. Future research will address drugs that can slow or stop the heightened dopamine production, and perhaps aid in the treatment of dopamine-related conditions, such as ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, and addictive behaviors.
We thank Caltech for its continued and outstanding contributions to science and technology in 2008.