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Thursday, April 3, 2008
New Web Portal to Advance Wide Range of Protein Studies
The Protein Structure Initiative (PSI), an effort supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has launched an online resource that will enable scientists from across biomedical disciplines to easily access a wealth of information about proteins and to speed discovery about these molecules.
The new portal, the PSI Structural Genomics Knowledgebase (PSI SGKB), is an entry point to all of the protein structure and production resources created by the PSI, a program started in 2000 to ascertain the three-dimensional structures of thousands of proteins. To date, the PSI research centers have generated 2,800 protein structures, and, in the process, developed techniques that significantly improve the steps of structure determination.
"Many of these products have always been available, just not all in one place," said Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director of NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which supports the PSI. "The ability to search the resources developed through the PSI should help a wide range of scientists make use of them to advance their own studies."
The PSI SGKB is designed primarily for biologists who, while not protein structure experts, may want to know more about a particular protein related to their research in genetics, biochemistry, pharmacology, bioinformatics, clinical medicine, or other areas.
From the home page, researchers can enter the sequence of a protein into a search box to quickly find the corresponding structure and ones like it, plus details about function and reports on how the structures were generated. A glossary of terms and acronyms helps to translate the information.
The site is a gateway to other useful information, including descriptions of new technologies and methods, a list of publications detailing key findings, supplemental funding opportunities for functional studies, and links to resources outside of the PSI. The site's users also can easily access the PSI-Materials Repository, a resource under development for ordering PSI-generated clones that can speed studies of protein structure and function.
Researchers may visit the PSI SGKB site to learn how to make a protein of interest or find out about tools they could use in their labs. They also could identify potential collaborators and read about the latest developments in a particular area of structural biology.
The PSI SGKB is directed by Helen Berman, Ph.D., a structural biologist and bioinformaticist at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She played an instrumental role in establishing and, since 1998, has directed the Protein Data Bank, which now archives more than 49,000 molecular structures.
Because the site is intended to be an interface with a broader research community, Berman said she wants to ensure that it meets users' needs. She welcomes feedback on the site, which may be submitted through the PSI SGKB or sent directly to NIGMS program director Ward Smith, Ph.D., at email@example.com or 301-443-9375.
Planned enhancements to the site include the addition of more searchable databases and editorial and news content about PSI advances.
Berman said, "The PSI SGKB unites a vast amount of information, making it an incredible resource that will bring together a community of researchers to really advance our knowledge of biology and health."
NIH's National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) also supports the PSI.
To arrange an interview with Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., or Helen Berman, Ph.D., please contact the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NIGMS (http://www.nigms.nih.gov) supports basic biomedical research that is the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
NCRR (http://www.ncrr.nih.gov) provides laboratory scientists and clinical researchers with the environments and tools they need to understand, detect, treat, and prevent a wide range of diseases.
About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): 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. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.
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