Research facility dedicated to donors
Brandeis officials recently dedicated the Landsman Research Facility after supporters Sheila and Manny Landsman, who funded the construction of the building, which is home to the superconducting magnet used by scientists to examine the causes of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, according to Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Nancy Winshup.Winshup noted that Manny Landsman is a "very active" member of the Science Advisory Council, which provides guidance and support to the science departments at Brandeis. Winshup believes that Landsman, who does not have a Brandeis degree or other direct connection to Brandeis, was won over by the "excellence of the sciences" at the University. He was "fascinated" by "this small institution with limited resources, which has such spectacular scientists," Winshup said. Consequently during the University's search for a donor who might be interested in financing a facility for the superconducting magnet, Landsman offered to provide the funding. "Brandeis is a very small institution, but we are a powerhouse in science, and so an opportunity like this allows our faculty to do more of the research that they want do with the best tools," Winshup said.
The Landsmans have also established the Landsman Charitable Foundation Endowed Scholarship at Brandeis and provided funding for the Office of Technology Licensing, which manages the patenting, licensing, trade marking and copyrighting of intellectual property developed at the University.
The Landsman facility completed construction in the fall of 2005. Prof. Thomas Pochapsky (CHEM) who spearheaded the efforts to bring the superconducting magnet to Brandeis remembered that the city of Waltham initially had some concerns about approving the building permit for the construction of the facility. "We assured the city that there was no safety or power issues for them to worry about, and they issued the building permits," Pochapsky wrote in an e-mail to the Justice. On the contrary Pochapsky said, "It is a very safe technology for the user and for the environment." However, he stated that the "standard operation procedure" for the usage of the magnet only requires there to be no metal objects on the person operating it, in case the object gets attracted to the magnet.
The $2 million grant for this 800 MHz Bruker magnet was initially awarded to Brandeis by the National Institute of Health. Pochapsky explained that in order to make the magnet superconducting, the temperature of the electric coils around it was lowered to the temperature of liquid helium. The drop in temperature resulted in a lack of resistance in the coils, and current was able to pass through them, creating a magnetic field. "So essentially when you put a current in [the coil], [the current] essentially keeps going forever," he said. Pochapsky said that the current in the superconducting magnet was put in two years ago. The liquid helium and nitrogen tank surrounding the coil has to be refilled on a regular basis to maintain this cool temperature.
He explained that the protons, electrons and neutrons in the atom have a property known as the spin effect, which causes the atom to move. The motion of the atom reveals information about its characteristics. Within the electromagnetic field, radio waves of the same frequency as the spin affect the motion of the spin. By observing the motion with the help of the superconducting magnet, Pochapsky stated that magnet can be used to understand larger molecules, such as protein and DNA. "We can watch these things [molecules] while they are working," he said.
Brandeis has become a "center for magnetic resonance research for New England," Pochapsky said. Scientists at Brandeis are looking at how drugs are metabolized. Prof. Dorothee Kern (BCHM) is also using the magnet to look at problems related to AIDS.