Glycoproteins and COVID-19

Hannah Hull
July, 2021

Glycoproteins are involved in all kinds of diseases, cancers and viruses, including HIV and COVID. Now more than ever amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very important to develop the research methods that could soon eliminate these viruses as an issue. Dr. Christian Bleiholder, FSU professor and principle investigator at the Bleiholder Laboratory, is developing ion-mobility spectrometry–mass spectrometry (IMS-MS) techniques to characterize the structure of these proteins and further develop these methods for research.

Getting from point A, the experimental data, to point B, the structure of a glycoprotein, is completed computationally and is very resource intensive. “It takes a lot of computing resources to develop these methods and make sure they’re accurate. So without the thousands of cores I am able to access I would not be able to do that,” states Bleiholder, regarding the High Performance Computing (HPC) Cluster. He typically runs jobs that use between 5,000 and 8,000 cores at the same time and considers himself one of the most extensive users of Research Computing Center (RCC) resources. 

Dr. Bleiholder originally began this project with the motivation to fight HIV. Upon discovering the COVID virus was connected to glycoproteins as well, the research switched direction to work towards a pandemic solution. The development of the IMS-MS technique was done jointly with a company collaborating with the Bleiholder Laboratory, so this cutting-edge research is readily accessible and on the market to be purchased. 

“Without the RCC right now, or without an equivalent support, I would not have been able to do my research which had helped me get an NSF grant, an NIH grant and also a corporate grant. [The RCC] has been critical to everything I have done here in the past six years.”