PASADENA, Calif.- The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has recently awarded multimillion dollar grants to the California Institute of Technology for the establishment of three new projects: the Center for Geochemical and Cosmochemical Microanalysis, the Proteome Exploration Laboratory, and the Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics. The grants for these facilities total more than $22 million.

Center for Geochemical and Cosmochemical Microanalysis: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other NASA facilities have collected solar wind and dust from comet tails during recent missions, and future plans include samples from Mars and other solar-system bodies. Some of these samples are smaller than a grain of table salt. To study such tiny samples, Caltech has received an $8.799 million grant from the Moore Foundation to create the Center for Geochemical and Cosmochemical Microanalysis.

The funds will pay for a laboratory housing two secondary-ion mass spectrometers for analyzing elemental and isotopic abundances at an extremely small scale, and a facility for developing new instruments designed to push back the frontiers of analytical geochemistry in the lab and in the field, whether here on Earth or on other planetary surfaces.

This facility will be used by a wide range of faculty, including geochemists, cosmochemists, planetary scientists, and geobiologists from Caltech and JPL.

The principal investigator is John Eiler, associate professor of geochemistry.

Proteome Exploration Laboratory: The Moore Foundation has also funded the Caltech Proteome Exploration Laboratory with a grant of $7.9 million. The lab, together with two other cutting-edge facilities already in place at Caltech will make the Institute a world leader in using the most advanced technologies available to identify, characterize, and evaluate the human genome products that specify the chemistry of life.

The technologies will allow for research into how the proteins specified by a genome give rise to an organism. Caltech researchers will be able to dissect both the structure and function of proteomic networks that underlie cellular computation.

The principal investigator is Raymond Deshaies, professor of biology; investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics: This center, for which the Moore Foundation has donated $5.6 million, will attack the problems posed by dark matter, dark energy, and the early universe. As a think tank, it will be nourished by the wealth of observational activity in cosmology at Caltech. The program will fund senior scientists as well as a visitor program, and will prepare postdoctoral scholars to enter long-term faculty positions. By analyzing and interpreting observational data in the next decade and brainstorming ideas for future experimental directions, the center will advance our understanding of several of the most confounding questions in fundamental physics today.

The principal investigator is Marc Kamionkowski, professor of physics and theoretical astrophysics.

“These generous grants will enable the Caltech faculty and their coworkers to advance human understanding of such basic questions as what the nature of the universe is and how the chemistry of life operates,” said Provost Paul Jennings.

The gifts are part of the Moore Foundation’s $300 million commitment to the five-year, $1.4 billion fundraising campaign that Caltech kicked off in October 2002.

Established in September 2000, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation seeks to develop outcome-based projects that will improve the quality of life for future generations. It has organized the majority of its grant making around large-scale initiatives. It concentrates funding in three programs areas: environmental conservation, science, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Contact: Jill Perry (626) 395-3226

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