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New Systems Biology Awards enable detailed study of microbes

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 NIAID's strong commitment to fostering innovative technological approaches in biology and medicine.

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)


Contact: Linda Perrett
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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