New Systems Biology Awards Enable Detailed
Study of Microbes
May Lead to Innovative Cures and Treatments for Infectious
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID),
part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will award five-year
contracts estimated to be up to $68.7 million to establish programs
in Systems Biology for Infectious Disease Research at four research
institutions. Scientists at each facility will apply novel techniques
to study diseases that include severe acute respiratory syndrome
(SARS), tuberculosis and influenza.
Systems biology is the study of the network of key molecular elements
in the cell, for example, DNA, RNA, proteins, metabolites and lipids.
The new NIAID-funded programs aim to identify molecular features
that distinguish bacterial and viral species and strains that may
be targets for potential medical interventions, such as antimicrobial
drugs, immunotherapies, vaccines and diagnostics.
"These new projects promise to deepen our fundamental understanding
of the complex molecular processes of microbes and their interactions
with the host, including how molecular-level events lead to the
initiation and progression of disease," says Anthony S. Fauci,
M.D., director of NIAID. "We anticipate that these projects
will generate new insights that will help us develop new tools
to prevent, diagnose and treat important infectious diseases."
Researchers will use a combination of computational and experimental
methods to analyze, identify, quantify, model and predict the overall
dynamics of the network of molecular components within microbes
and the interactions of those components with human cells. Their
work will build upon and expand the data, technologies and other
resources generated through the NIAID microbial genomics program
and complement Institute-supported systems biology research in
human immunology. The new awards represent NIAIDís strong commitment
to fostering innovative technological approaches in biology and
The information generated by these programs will be widely disseminated
to the scientific community through publicly accessible databases.
The following institutions received the awards:
- Battelle-Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA
Principal Investigator: Joshua N. Adkins, Ph.D.
Focus: Salmonella enterica and Yersinia pestis
- Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, WA
Principal Investigator: Alan Aderem, Ph.D.
Focus: Influenza virus, Staphylococcus aureus
- Stanford University, Stanford, CA
Principal Investigator: Gary K. Schoolnik, M.D.
Focus: Mycobacterium tuberculosis
- University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Principal Investigator: Michael G. Katze, Ph.D.
Focus: Influenza virus and severe acute respiratory syndrome
associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV)
To learn more about NIAIDís genomics programs visit http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/topics/pathogenGenomics/
NIAID conducts and supports research — at NIH, throughout the United
States, and worldwide — to study the causes of infectious and immune-mediated
diseases, and to develop better means of preventing, diagnosing
and treating these illnesses. News releases, fact sheets and other
NIAID-related materials are available on the NIAID Web site at http://www.niaid.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.