Veronica Gaucher

Veronica Gaucher has written 5 posts for The Digital Bullpen

USF receives $2.5 million National Institute of Health grant to further study antimalarial drugs

The University of South Florida Department of Chemistry and the USF Global Health Department have collaboratively earned multiple grants for the continuation of research in antimalarial pharmaceuticals this semester.

USF Chemistry professor Dr. Roman Manetsch and USF Global Health professor Dr. Dennis Kyle together earned two National Institute of Health (NIH) Research Project Grants this September, totaling over $2.5 million for research during the next five years.

Malaria is an extremely infectious, life-threatening disease that is transmitted mainly by mosquitoes.  The parasitic disease causes nearly one million deaths and affects over 240 million people each year according to Roll Back Malaria.

The newest NIH grant earned by USF is titled “Drugs targeting erythrocytic and exoerythrocytic stages of malaria.”  It provides the research group with $1.3 million over the next five years.

The grant  awarded to USF for the project Manetsch and Kyle developed  focuses on several compounds that have demonstrated potential for activity against all stages of parasitic development.

Research will focus on the development of drugs that block the relapse of dormant parasites and that can prevent transmission of the disease to mosquitoes.

“These new developments have elevated USF to one of the top research programs in the country with regards to the development of novel antimalarial pharmaceuticals,” said Dr. Randy W. Larsen, professor in the USF Department of Chemistry.

Research is still ongoing, though major breakthroughs are anticipated in the near future.

USF beer club brews their own ‘refreshments’

Kiss My Heine Dutch Light Ale is the first beer of the semester chosen by the unofficial USF Beer Brewing Club on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

“We definitely wanted a lighter beer to kick off the semester,” said club president Christine Sincoski.

The club’s twelve amateur brewers selected the beer because of its distinct description: an initial sweet bitterness that leaves no after-taste.

The evening began with a drive to the local brewing store on Busch Boulevard to buy the necessary ingredients: over two pounds of grain, malt extract, three types of hops, and a liquid yeast.

At Sincoski’s house, club member Kevin Pitman began the brewing process by bringing two-and-a-half gallons of purified water to a boil.

“First you steep the grains like you would with a pot of tea and then remove the spent grain,” said Pitman. “Then you bring that to a boil and add all of your ingredients one by one.”

The cooking of the wort, the term for unfermented beer, lasted only one hour.  After that, the time-consuming cooling process began.

“The wort has to be within the temperature range of 60 to 80 degrees to add the yeast, otherwise the enzymes in the yeast will die,” said Michael Jacobs.

The final step of the cooling process is to add the wort to two-and-a-half gallons of cold water in a sanitized bucket.   After a temperature check is performed, the activated liquid yeast is added.

Lastly, the bucket containing the wort was covered with an airtight lid with an airlock.  The airlock allows gasses to escape the bucket during fermentation without allowing air to get in.

Fermentation will last anywhere from two days to one week.  Once fermentation stops, the beer is filtered, a priming sugar is added, then it is bottled.  The priming sugar allows for carbonation to develop.

The bottles must sit in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks to allow the beer to settle and carbonation to build.  The ale will be ready for consumption after those two weeks, though connoisseurs agree four to five weeks of settling leads to a better tasting beer.

The next club meeting will take place once fermentation stops in approximately one week.  Sincoski will monitor fermentation and alert fellow club members when the beer will be ready for filtration and bottling.

Library printer malfunction causes long lines, backup


The new printers in the USF library caused long wait times and frustrated students this week. Two of the printer/copier machines malfunctioned on Monday evening.

The new printer system in the library consists of four printer/copier machines capable of printing in color and black and white.  The four machines replaced the old printing area of an island of computers; six computers printing in black and white and two computers for color.  The change took place during the spring semester of 2011 and was intended to cut down wait lines.

USF professor’s citation bestows first bike racks

When Chemistry Professor Jesse Binford made his way into his locked laboratory on March 21, 1963 he noticed a citation on his bicycle parked inside.

Binford’s bicycle was previously ticketed on Feb. 22, 1963 because it was locked to the railing of the entrance to the chemistry building.  Before he could appeal the ticket before the traffic committee, Binford had to first pay the allotted fine.

He paid it but he lost the appeal.

The second citation on March 21 was particularly frustrating, he said, because, to his knowledge, he had complied with the bicycle regulations at the time.  He had not parked on grassy areas or sidewalks, thus hindering passersby.  Because Binford’s laboratory had been locked, the police officer had to obtain a key to unlock the lab before he cited the offending bicycle.

The University of South Florida (USF) did not have any bike racks at the time.

“Where was I supposed to park?” asked Binford.

Outraged, Binford refused to pay the fine for the second occurrence.  Weeks later, the professor received a notice stating that his on-campus parking privileges had been revoked and that any vehicle, motorized or not, would be towed at his expense.

Binford began parking in a lot on Fletcher Ave., north of the USF campus.

“At one point, a student noticed Jesse and his wife Lolita walking in formal attire.  The student stopped, cleared his back seat, and offered the professor and his wife a ride to the show they were going to see at the USF theatre,” recalled Dean Martin, director of the chemistry department.

Soon after the March citation, bicycle racks appeared adjacent to the chemistry parking lot.  Then the security office issued a memo to Binford declaring that an anonymous source has paid his fine and that his on-campus parking privileges had been restored.

USF chemistry department’s research sparks interest in Japan

Dr. Jon Antilla, an award-winning associate professor of chemistry at the University of South Florida (USF) specializing in organocatalysts, has recently made break-through discoveries in his research.

Antilla’s new discoveries involve the use of many organocatalysts, specifically one that is called VAPOL phosphoric acid.  This catalyst, like all others, is used to accelerate the rate of a chemical reaction.  Because it is an organocatalyst, the catalyst is an organic compound.

“Traditionally catalysts have used metals and what we’ve done is use purely organic catalysts; we don’t use any toxic metals within our research so it’s somewhat green in nature, our catalysis,” said Antilla.

The appeal to having an organic catalysis, which simply is any chemical reaction that occurs when using an organic catalyst, is that is more natural and can be cheaper if adopted.

The organocatalysts that Antilla is working with allow for the construction of new chemical bonds with three-dimensional stereocontrol.  These stereocontrolled synthetic methods, which are methods involving three-dimensional spatial arrangements of atoms in molecules, are used in over 80 percent of pharmaceutical drugs.

“It’s early in so we have to show that these things work in a lot of reactions.  It’s not right away everyone uses them to make new drugs,” said Antilla.

The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship (JSPS) has recognized Antilla for the year 2011 due to these recent methodology developments.

After the fall semester of Organic Chemistry, CHM 2210, Antilla will be given the opportunity to travel to Japan.  There he will be a short-term scholar at Gakushin University and travel to at least 12 universities to speak about his new organocatalyst developments.

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