NIH makes award to UNC for Genome Fingerprint Scanning program

Bethesda, Md.--The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today it will provide more than $1 million over three years to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to further develop and make more widely available a Genome Fingerprint Scanning (GFS) program. The tool allows researchers to match mass spectrometry data directly to raw, unannotated genetic sequences to identify proteins and locate novel genes. Proteomics, the study of how proteins interact and respond to changing conditions in complex systems, is increasingly being used to help decipher diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.

"This powerful genome fingerprint scanning tool will allow researchers to overcome a major bottleneck that has hampered their capacity to make full use of the vast information generated by sequencing dozens of genomes," said NCRR Director Judith L. Vaitukaitis, M.D. "This is the equivalent of being able to harness a whole library of information without an index."

Current software for protein identification is limited mainly to those for which a gene or protein entry exists in one of the public databases. Protein identification cannot be effectively performed for organisms whose annotations are incomplete, missing, or incorrect. By contrast, the GFS program is capable of matching mass spectrometry data from proteomic studies directly to raw, or even unfinished, genome sequences. The program has already been used to identify novel proteins in Francisella tularensis, the bacterium that causes the infectious disease tularemia, and in Tetrahymena thermophila, a model organism for studies of cellular and molecular biology.

"This support from NCRR will allow us to transform our Genome Fingerprint Scanning program from an experimental, beta-quality tool, into a free, widely-used resource that will benefit the global proteomics community," said Morgan C. Giddings, Ph.D.,

Contact: Ann Puderbaugh or Joyce McDonald
NIH/National Center for Research Resources

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