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NIGMS Plans Changes to Protein Structure Initiative

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The National Institutes of Health plans to support research partnerships between biologists and high-throughput structure determination centers involved in biomedical research through the newly-named Protein Structure Initiative's PSI:Biology program, which is run by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

NIGMS will back this new focus for the initiative with $37 million in fiscal 2010 for research programs in five, and eventually a total of eight, different component areas.

The PSI, which began in 2000, is a federal, university, and industry effort started with the plans of dramatically reducing the costs and lessening the time required to determine a three-dimensional
protein structure.

"This is a natural evolution for the PSI," NIGMS Director Jeremy Berg said in a statement yesterday.

"The previous phases of the initiative developed a very efficient high-throughput structure determination pipeline along with other technologies to study the relationships between protein sequences and structures. Now, we want to foster the use of these technologies to explore a broad range of important biomedical research questions," Berg continued.

NIGMS said that in April it will begin issuing requests for applications for the first five components.

These programs will include high-throughput structure determination centers that will aim to solve community-nominated sets of protein structures, consortia of scientists that will work with the structure determination centers to solve biological problems that require the solution of many protein structures, and centers focused on determining membrane protein structures of great biological interest and on developing new methods to make these structures more amenable to high-throughput determination.

In addition, NIGMS will seek applications for the PSI-SG Knowledgebase, which will continue to coordinate activities across the research network and solicit community-nominated targets, and the PSI-SG Materials Repository, which will centralize, maintain, store, and distribute vectors and clones generated by PSI-supported researchers.

NIGMS also plans to issue program announcements for technology development for structure determination, new methods for protein modeling, and additional partnerships with members of the broader community.

So far, PSI-supported researchers have generated more then 3,500 structures, some of which have been commercialized and have been reported in more than 1,200 research papers.

More information about the PSI:Biology program is available here.

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