Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
College of Medicine
Joanna Long is an expert at using magnets to see the invisible.
Specifically, her work focuses on developing and applying magnetic resonance techniques to determine biomolecular structure, chemistry and dynamics in different physiological settings and relating them to function. In doing so, she works with a variety of other scientists.
“I take pride in engaging in truly interdisciplinary research endeavors, sometimes at the ‘bleeding edge’ of technique development,” Long said.
Long collaborates with physicists and engineers to advance new technologies that capitalize on nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) as a non-invasive procedure. Using this technology, she also collaborates with specialists in microbiology, neuroscience, materials science, chemistry and virology on novel applications of the emerging technologies.
Currently, her work focuses on four areas: the development of NMR techniques and hardware to increase sensitivity and resolution; tailoring these to understand complex processes; understanding different molecular mechanisms of lipid trafficking in pulmonary surfactant; and characterizing protein assembly and amyloid creation underlying biofilm creation, which leads to tooth decay.
Using an “exquisitely precise” technique such as NMR allows researchers to obtain atomic resolution information on biomolecular structure, dynamics and organization within the molecule itself, taking away the necessity of removal. Similarly, NMR spectroscopy is uniquely suited to study the organization and assembly of biomolecular complexes, such as lipid bilayers, biofilms and biominerals, which are otherwise indiscernible to other standard high-resolution techniques, such as x-ray crystallography or cryoelectron microscopy.
To date, Long has published 53 papers in a number of high-impact publications throughout her research career and was the senior or first author on 21 of them. Long serves as director of the Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy Facility at UF and is the associate lab director of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.