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NIGMS to Fund New Protein Structure Programs

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of General Medical Sciences plans to fund five grant programs to support a new Protein Structure Initiative program called PSI: Biology, and late last week released two grant announcements that could award as much as $40 million to kick off the program, which it calls "a significant shift in focus" for the Protein Structure Initiative.

The original PSI began in fiscal year 2000 and was focused on increasing understanding of the "protein folding problem," or the relationship between the sequence of a protein and its three dimensional structure.

When the program is completely rolled out the PSI: Biology initiative will consist of five major parts, and five grant programs to fund them: including the Centers for High-Throughput Structure Determination and the Centers for Membrane Protein Structure Determination grants, which are now seeking applications.

The other three programs will include funding for: Consortia for High-Throughput-Enabled Structural Biology Partnerships; the PSI-Structural Genomics Knowledgebase; and the PSI-Materials Repository; and three other components to fund high-throughput structural biology and protein modeling research.

Under the "Centers for Membrane Protein Structure Determination" grant, NIGMS expects to award between $8 million and $15 million to between four and ten investigators. Applicants for this grant may seek between $1.5 million and $5 million per year for up to five years.

This program will fund centers that will focus on making membrane protein structures more amenable to high-throughput structure determination. These centers will determine protein structures, develop new technologies, conduct bioinformatic analysis and modeling, and disseminate information and collaborate with other researchers.

The "Consortia for High-Throughput-Enabled Structural Biology Partnerships" program will grant between $5 million and $25 million to fund between five and 10 awards, with budgets of $250,000 to $1.5 million in direct costs per year for an average of three years.

This program will support centers that will determine protein structures using high-throughput pipeline capabilities, develop technologies to improve the pipeline and attack increasingly difficult proteins and complexes of proteins, creating new models based on solved structures, and disseminating information and materials through the PSI-Materials Repository and the PSI-Structural Genomics Knowledgebase.