2010 Sigma Xi Chapter Meeting – A Great Success

Submitted by Jorge Espino '11 on February 27, 2010

On February 4, 2010, the Fairfield University Sigma Xi chapter, a scientific research society, invited Dr. John Miecznikowski to present his work to Fairfield faculty and students. The lecture was held in the Dimenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia Room and attracted a crowd of science and math faculty as well as their students.

Prof. Miecznikowski has developed a Zinc Pincer Model complex for the liver alcohol dehydrogenase active site, which, as Dr. Miecznikowski explains, involves “trying to prepare a chemical model of the reactive part of the protein. I am not trying to synthesize the protein, as this will be too hard to do. Chemical models are prepared to synthesize catalysts that can catalyze the same reactions as the protein. Chemical models also are made of proteins to better understand how proteins work. I also want to see if these complexes will catalyze the metabolism of alcohols and other related molecules.”

Essentially, his research could eventually lead to the creation of “an anti-drunk drug,” as it was described by a student in the audience. This, however, is not Prof. Miecznikowski’s intention nor is it likely as there are several effective procedures for the treatment of alcohol poisoning.

“Undergraduate researchers do most of the work for me in my laboratory under my direct supervision,” says Prof. Miecznikowski. For this project, that team includes:

  • Amanda DiMarzio, ‘11
  • Katie Foley, ‘10
  • Lauren Keilich, ‘11
  • Brianne O’Loughlin, ‘11

Most of the research for this project was conducted during the summers of 2008 and 2009. Prof. Miecznikowski is currently applying for several grants to support his research. These grants would also help cover peripheral research costs such as materials and student researcher stipends.

Prof. Miecznikowski is also the principal investigator on a grant submission that will enable the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry to obtain an electrospray mass spectrometer, a necessary piece of equipment for his research and other faculty member’s research. The Department needs an electrospray mass spectrometer so students and faculty can confirm that they synthesized the intended product. This instrument will provide a state-of-the-art teaching resource at Fairfield University.

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