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Collins Speaks on NHGRI s Desire to Fund Proteomics Technology

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The National Human Genome Research Institute plans to spend a substantial amount of its estimated $25 million annual budget for technology development on proteomics, ProteoMonitor has learned. In an interview, NHGRI Director Francis Collins said the money, to be disbursed through a series of current and future grant programs, would focus on developing technology for the study of mammalian cells using proteomics.

“It is an enormous challenge to try to tackle the protein repertoire of a mammalian cell, and we don’t really as yet have the technology tuned to the point where I think that could be done in a cost-effective way,” Collins said. “Two-dimensional gels and mass spectrometry are great, but we’ve got to do better than that if we’re going to see more than five percent of the proteins in a cell.”

Collins said the technology development programs would be aimed at encouraging researchers to create new methods for not only identifying which proteins are present in mammalian cells, but also their location in the cell, their interacting partners, and whether they are posttranslationally-modified. Other potentially attractive projects for funding include developing affinity agents for proteins, and bioinformatics for proteomics, he added.

As examples of current projects the NHGRI is supporting in these areas, Collins cited Mike Snyder’s work at Yale University to develop protein arrays containing the entire yeast proteome (see p. 11), and the work of Mark Vidal at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, where he is studying the protein-protein interactions of C. elegans proteins. Snyder’s lab receives NHGRI funding as a Center of Excellence in Genomic Science, a program that will continue to expand and provide resources for technology development in proteomics, Collins said.

— JSM

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