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Glycoscience Goes Mainstream

A new report from the National Research Council aims to set out "a roadmap for transforming glycoscience from a field dominated by specialists to a widely studied and integrated discipline."

Glycoscience, which studies the structures and functions of sugars, "promises great advances in areas as diverse as medicine, energy generation, and materials science," NAS says. "However, glycans have received little attention from the research community due to a lack of tools to probe their often complex structures and properties."

As a result, several NIH institutes, the US Food and Drug Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy commissioned a report that would articulate "a unified vision for the field on glycoscience and glycomics" and "develop a roadmap with concrete research goals to significantly advance [them]."

As the NIGMS Feedback Loop Blog notes, the report outlines a number of recommendations, including improved methods and tools for studying carbohydrates and glycoconjugates, as well as better informatics and database resources.

NIGMS, which funds a number of glycoscience initiatives, such as the Consortium for Functional Glycomics, says the report "sets an ambitious pace that would require a broad, multidisciplinary, multi-agency [funding] effort."

Report co-author Gerald Hart of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will brief the NIGMS Advisory Council on the recommendations at the council's meeting this Friday.

The Scan

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