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Protein structure initiative advances to rapid production phase

With the announcement of 10 new research centers, the Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) launches the second phase of its national effort to find the three-dimensional shapes of a wide range of proteins. This structural information will help reveal the roles that proteins play in health and disease and will help point the way to designing new medicines.

Selection of the centers, slated to receive about $300 million over the next five years, marks the second half of the decade-long initiative funded largely by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), part of the National Institutes of Health.

When the PSI established its pilot centers beginning in 2000, its goal was twofold: to develop innovative approaches and tools, such as robotic instruments, that streamline and speed many steps of generating protein structures, and to incorporate those new methods into pipelines that turn DNA sequence information into protein structures.

Now, the focus shifts to a production phase during which the new centers will use methods developed during the pilot period to rapidly determine thousands of protein structures found in organisms ranging from bacteria to humans. These efforts will facilitate structure determination on a much larger number of proteins through computer modeling.

"The PSI has transformed protein structure determination into a highly automated process, making it possible to go from a selected target to a completed structure much more rapidly than before," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of NIGMS. "Building on these achievements, the new centers will take the PSI to the next level, yielding large numbers of structures and tackling significant new challenges. Importantly, the technology developed as part of the PSI will continue to impact structural studies beyond the PSI."

The PSI production phase includes two types of centers. Four large-scale centers, established during the pilot phase, expect to
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Contact: Emily Carlson
carlsone@nigms.nih.gov
301-496-7301
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences
1-Jul-2005


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