NIH launches first center in Nationwide Chemical Genomics Network

BETHESDA, Md., Wed., June 9, 2004 The National Institutes of Health (NIH) today announced the establishment of the NIH Chemical Genomics Center the first component of a nationwide network that will produce innovative chemical "tools" for use in biological research and drug development.

"Providing public-sector researchers with this unprecedented opportunity will greatly broaden the scope of biological exploration," said NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "The NIH-supported chemical genomics network will have a transformative effect on medical research by expanding our understanding of how the human genome and proteome function, which in turn will speed the development of new ways to fight disease and improve human health."

In contrast to researchers in the pharmaceutical industry, many academic and government scientists currently do not have easy access to large libraries of organic chemical compounds. Such compounds, which scientists call "small molecules" because they are smaller than proteins, can be used as tools to modulate gene function and improve understanding of biological pathways involved in human health and disease. This area of research is often referred to as chemical genomics.

Established through the Molecular Libraries and Imaging working group of the recently announced NIH Roadmap for Medical Research, the NIH Chemical Genomics Center is based in the National Human Genome Research Institute's (NHGRI) Division of Intramural Research. It is the first component of an initiative that will result in a consortium of chemical genomics screening centers. In addition to NHGRI, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is providing leadership for this initiative, which, like all of the Roadmap initiatives, includes representation from numerous NIH institutes and centers.

Up to 10 pilot centers will be funded at academic institutions and other locations across the country in Fiscal Year (FY) 2005. "These chemical genomi

Contact: Geoff Spencer
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

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