Scripps Research Institute scientists have been awarded approximately $65 million in four five-year grants as part of the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) latest round of structural biology funding. The projects will focus on determining the shapes and functions of proteins and protein complexes that are important in biology and medicine.
"The grants are an acknowledgement of The Scripps Research Institute's leadership in the field of structural studies," said Scripps Research President Richard A. Lerner, M.D. "We're looking forward to many more important advances from our scientists thanks to this latest round of support from the NIH."
The four Scripps Research grants are part of the NIH Protein Structure Initiative (PSI), an effort that started in 2000 with the main goal of developing highly efficient methods for solving the structures of many different proteins. The new grants mark the beginning of the effort's third phase, called "PSI:Biology." A key aim of this phase is to apply the high-throughput methods developed during the initiative's first decade to challenging biological problems and systems.
"These awards to Scripps Research represent the key elements of the Protein Structure Initiative-from generating structures and new structure determination methods for particularly challenging proteins to harnessing the power of high-throughput to address important biological problems," said Ward Smith, Ph.D., director of the PSI. "Together, these approaches can significantly advance our understanding of the role proteins play in health and disease."
The Scripps Research grants are:
$37.6 million to a consortium led by Ian A. Wilson, D.Phil., Hansen Professor of Structural Biology and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research.
$5.8 million to a group led by Jamie Williamson, Ph.D., professor, dean of the graduate school, and member of the Skaggs Institute, and Daniel R. Salomon, M.D., associate professor and Medical Director of the Scripps Center for Organ and Cell Transplantation
$16.8 million to a center led by Raymond Stevens, Ph.D., professor in the Departments of Molecular Biology and Chemistry, together with Scripps Research investigators Assistant Professor Vadim Cherezov, Associate Professor Peter Kuhn, Professor Hugh Rosen, and Professor Kurt Wüthrich
$5 million to the Scripps Research portion of a collaboration led by Geoffrey Chang, Ph.D., associate professor and member of the Skaggs Institute, in conjunction with Doug Rees, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and Professor at the California Institute of Technology, and Michael Stowell, associate professor at the University of Colorado. The total for this grant is $11.5 million.
Large-Scale Structure Determination
Building on a decade of success and the solution of more than 1,000 structures, Wilson will continue to lead one of four, long-standing, large-scale PSI centers.
The consortium-called the Joint Center for Structural Genomics (JCSG) and comprising scientists at the University of California, San Diego; Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF); Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute; and Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL), Stanford University-will continue to operate its pipeline for high-throughput structure determination. Structures that the group plans to tackle over the next five years include challenging targets, such as eukaryotic proteins, as well as protein-protein, protein-RNA, protein-DNA, and other complexes.