The Michigan Proteome Consortium received an $11.9 million boost this week from the National Center for Research Resources to develop new proteomics technologies, to apply the technologies to collaborators’ problems, and to expand its network of collaborations to a national scale.
The MPC — which currently consists of a network of scientists from the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Michigan State University, and the Van Andel Research Institute — was initially funded as a service center in 2001 with $13.7 million from the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor, a state-funded agency (see PM 2-10-03). The MPC has taken in a total of $28 million over the past two years. The NCRR money represents an expanded role for the MPC, according to director Philip Andrews. “If you’re going to do cutting-edge service work, you really need a research component to that. …We wanted to bring all this together in one larger research project, and that’s what the P-41 grant from the NCRR allows us to do,” Andrews said.
One important way in which the MPC will expand, according to Andrews, is by forming collaborations based on what he calls “hybrid projects,” in which the technology that is the specialty of one lab is combined with a different technology from another lab to achieve a common end. For example, Brian Haab, a current collaborator at Van Andel who is working on protein arrays, is already lending his array technology to Andrews’ lab, which is working on proteome mapping. “We found we can map proteins directly from protein microarrays at the femtomole level,” Andrews said. The NCRR grant, he added, also gave the MPC a specific mandate to expand research in pathway mapping, using techniques such as yeast-2-hybrid, pulldown experiments, and phosphoproteome analysis.
An important new approach that the NCRR will support is the expansion of the Michigan consortium out of its current state boundaries. Andrews said that he hopes the MPC will become a “national resource” that will provide new technologies to proteomics researchers around the country. “We have identified collaborators across the country who have classical, hypothesis-driven research projects that could benefit from new technologies,” Andrews said. “So we’ve asked, ‘What do we need to develop that would help them make progress in their research?’”
Andrews added that the MPC will expand its current offerings of Michigan-focused proteomics workshops to include national workshops on the use of mass specs and other technologies. These workshops will begin next year.