Support for Cutting-edge Equipment from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust Stands to Advance New Discoveries at Iowa State University

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust of Muscatine, Iowa, has committed $642,765 to Iowa State University to purchase cutting-edge equipment for the office of biotechnology and the department of biomedical sciences.

A $192,600 grant provides for the purchase of a lipidic cubic phase (LCP)-enabled high throughput crystallization screening system that will make it possible for researchers to employ the most advanced methods for studying membrane proteins. A second grant of $450,165 will allow Iowa State also to acquire a desorption electrospray ionization (DESI) mass spectrometry imaging system that will significantly increase the speed at which human, animal and plant samples can be analyzed, providing unparalleled results in the accuracy and precision of the chemical characterization within a specific target sample.

Both the LCP high throughput system and DESI system are considered state-of-the art technology, and will be the first such equipment in the state of Iowa, benefiting research teams and students on campus, at other Regent institutions, and throughout the region.

The study of proteins residing in cell membranes is crucial to improving human health. Membrane proteins are involved in a wide range of physiological functions, including a cell’s shape and inner organization, and how the cell receives and reacts to signals from its environment. Mutations or improper folding of membrane proteins are associated with many diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, cystic fibrosis, depression and obesity, among others. Understanding the structure and function of membrane proteins is key, yet it remains extremely challenging with current X-ray crystallography techniques.

“The opportunity to bring this system to Iowa State is timely because it dovetails with the goals of the Initiative in Biomolecular Structure in the Roy J. Carver Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology,” said James Reecy, professor of animal science, director of the office of biotechnology, and associate vice president for research. “At the start of the initiative, new techniques and tools to interrogate the inner workings of cells were on the horizon, and the department sought to build expertise in anticipation of future breakthroughs. The LCP high throughput system is one of those emerging technologies that is now available and, thanks to the generosity of the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, it will certainly continue the department’s research trajectory by opening doors to analyses of many systems that, so far, have been beyond reach due to their complexity.”

Research collaborations underway in the biomedical sciences at Iowa State are gaining ground in developing a more complete picture of the causes and prevention – and thereby potential therapies – of critical human diseases and conditions ranging from neurodegenerative diseases to cancer, including the role natural and built environments may have on these diseases. Conventional mass spectrometry approaches are often laborious and require skilled scientists to perform and interpret the results. It presents challenges and hinders research progress.

“The DESI system will make life sciences research more streamlined, faster and more precise,” said Anumantha Kanthasamy, Distinguished Professor and chair, department of biomedical sciences, and W.E. Lloyd Endowed Chair in Neurotoxicology. “The new technology being acquired through the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust’s generous grant can indicate the composition of matter – the chemical composition – in a way that currently is not possible with any other instrument. This will greatly accelerate research procedures to a point that investigators will be able to pursue new avenues that to date have been time and cost prohibitive. We cannot thank the Carver Trust enough for this grant. It enables significant leaps in research focusing on human diseases within the biomedical research community.”

Over the past three decades, the Carver Trust has made gift commitments of more than $41 million to support Iowa State University.

“The Trustees of the Carver Charitable Trust recognize the tremendous impact that state-of-the-art scientific instrumentation contributes to the overall scientific environment and ultimate success of the research enterprise of an academic institution,” said Troy Ross, executive administrator of the Carver Trust. “We anticipate that these new acquisitions will benefit numerous projects and programs in bioscience at ISU and, by extension, advance education and professional opportunities for many Iowa State students.”

The Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust in Muscatine, Iowa, is one of the largest private philanthropic foundations in the state of Iowa, with assets of more than $300 million and annual grant distributions of more than $15 million. It was created through the will of Roy J. Carver, a Muscatine industrialist and philanthropist, who died in 1981.


The Iowa State University Foundation is a private, nonprofit organization committed to securing and managing gifts that benefit Iowa State University. The Forever True, For Iowa State campaign, with a historic goal to raise $1.1 billion, will help support Iowa State in becoming the premier land-grant university for the 21st century and beyond.

James Reecy, Office of Biotechnology, Iowa State University, 515.294.9269
Anumantha Kanthasamy, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Iowa State University, 515.294.2516
Karen Simon, Communications, ISU Foundation, 515.294.7263