FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — University of Arkansas chemistry professor Mahmoud Moradi, whose research focuses on computational simulations of coronavirus and other diseases, has received an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Institutes of Health.
According to a press release from the university, Outstanding Investigator Awards “support individual scientists who have demonstrated outstanding research accomplishments and seminal contributions to their field.” The awards can be used for any project of the researcher’s choice that fits within the mission of the granting institution.
Moradi, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, will receive $1.6 million over five years from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. He will use these funds to develop, tailor and fine-tune enhanced sampling and path-finding algorithms to address important biological and biomedical questions.
Enhanced sampling and path-finding algorithms are two techniques for the study of molecular dynamics simulation. Both benefit from recent advances in structural biology and supercomputing technology.
The aim of the project is to develop robust sampling and analysis protocols for studying functionally relevant conformational changes of various proteins, from fibroblast growth factor to coronavirus spike protein. The computational models will enable researchers to characterize conformational changes at the molecular level, which could deepen our understanding of diseases and design treatments for them.
Moradi previously received attention for developing computational simulations of the behavior of SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins prior to fusion with human cell receptors. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.