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NIGMS Awards up to $290M for PSI

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded a total of up to $290 million in new grants under its Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) program, which aims to support development of high-throughput methods for revealing the structures of proteins and for enhancing knowledge of protein biology.

Included in the five-year program is up to $140 million for four PSI: Biology Centers for High-Throughput Structure Determination that will serve as pipelines for determining protein structures that are nominated by the scientific community or are identified by collaborators.

Another $75 million will fund nine centers for determining membrane protein structures that enable nerves, muscles, and hormones to function. Scientists currently are unable to visualize their shapes in three dimensions in order to better understand their function. These Membrane Protein Structure Determination Centers will focus on developing new methods for solving these structures through collaborations with other PSI: Biology partners.

The remaining funding will support 10 grants to support the Consortia for High-Throughput-Enabled Structural Biology Partnerships, and two PSI: Biology Resource Centers, including a Materials Repository and a Structural Biology Knowledgebase.

"The PSI has been incredibly successful in establishing high-throughput pipelines that have led to more than 5,000 structures, most unlike any we've seen before," NIGMS Director Jeremy Berg said in a statement. "Now it's time to deploy these capabilities so we can advance our understanding of the role proteins play in health and disease."

"The value of membrane proteins in biology and medicine has been clear for a long time, and now we need to take a major step toward making membrane protein structure determination better, faster, and cheaper, just as the PSI has done for many other types of proteins," PSI Director Ward Smith added.

These grants mark the beginning of the third five-year phase of the PSI: Biology program, which began in 2000.

The PSI: Biology Centers that will receive up to $140 million include the Joint Center for Structural Genomics at the Scripps Research Institute; the Midwest Center for Structural Genomics at the University of Chicago; the New York Structural Genomics Research Consortium at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University; and the Northeast Structural Genomics Consortium at Rutgers University.

The $75 million for the Consortia for High-Throughput-Enabled Structural Biology Partnerships include grants to the Burnham Institute for Medical Research and Stanford University; the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University; the University of Chicago; Bettelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Scripps Research Institute; the University of California, San Diego; the University of Southern California; Texas A&M University; and the University of California, San Francisco.

A complete list of the grant winners is available at the NIGMS website's PSI: Biology Network page.

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