Researchers at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT today announced that they have been chosen to receive a six-year, ~ $86M grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to identify and develop molecular tools known as "small molecules", which can probe the proteins, signaling pathways and cellular processes that are crucial to human health and disease. The Broad Institute is among nine institutions to receive funding under the Molecular Libraries and Imaging Initiative, one of the NIH Roadmap Initiatives for Medical Research. These institutions together comprise a collaborative research network that will conduct high-throughput biological studies and chemical optimization of a diverse collection of small molecules, and openly share their data with the scientific community, yielding knowledge that may bolster the search for novel disease therapies.
"Small-molecule probe and drug discovery enables basic research to impact on human health, and the advances of chemical biology are transforming this discovery process," said principal investigator Stuart Schreiber, director of the Chemical Biology Program at the Broad Institute. "Integrating chemical biology with genome biology, which is a founding principle of the Broad Institute, accelerates the march to new medicines in a magical way."
The molecules of life come in a variety of shapes and sizes. At one end of the spectrum are large macromolecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins. At the other end are a plethora of chemical compounds that exert effects on human biology by virtue of their relatively small size and their ability to interact directly with biological macromolecules. These so-called small molecules are readily transported through the body and include endogenous substances, such as hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as medicines like aspirin and penicillin.
The six-year NIH grant designates the Broad Institute as one of four Comprehensive Screening Centers in the
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Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard