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NIH Plans $6M for Molecular Probe Grants

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health plans to spend $6 million next year to fund 30 grants for investigators seeking to discover new molecular probes for use in automated, high-throughput screening research.

The aim of the grant program, which will provide up to $100,000 in direct costs per project, is to develop novel assays that can be miniaturized, automated, and used for screening small molecules against structurally diverse libraries. These molecular probes can then be used in assays by the Molecular Libraries Production Centers Network (MLPCN) to identify biologically active compounds in a large library of small molecule chemical structures.

This funding is part of the Molecular Libraries and Imaging Roadmap Initiative, which aims to expand the PubChem public database of information about small molecule chemical structures and the development of small molecule pharmacological tools for biological research.

The molecular probes that will be developed under these grants should enable understanding of basic biological processes, and promote understanding of disease mechanisms. The efforts should emphasize novelty in their approach or in their targets and mechanisms.

The grants could fund development of assays of cellular or molecular phenotypes; assays involving mutant proteins associated with disease; assays measuring protein interactions that are important to biological signaling; novel assays using model organisms such as yeast, C. elegans, and zebrafish; modulation of gene expression, including effects on transcription, translation, or RNA splicing; or cell-based assays measuring cell signaling or biosynthetic pathways.

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