NIGMS is highly involved in a number of NIH Roadmap activities related to the development of technology and resources that will accelerate the pace of basic biomedical research. This trans-NIH effort will benefit health by increasing the number of discoveries that can be translated into clinical applications.
Two roadmap initiatives will be particularly significant in advancing NIGMS' mission. One is the structural biology initiative, which focuses on producing large quantities of proteins found in biological membranes. These proteins, which include ion channel proteins like the one examined by 2003 Nobel laureate MacKinnon, are hard to produce and study but have such critical functions that they are prime targets for drug development.
The second initiative, bioinformatics and computational biology, addresses the pressing need in s biomedical research for computational approachessuch as modelingto extract meaning from massive amounts of data. Ideally, scientists would like to have easy access to an integrated biomedical computing environment. As a first step in building this resource, the roadmap initiative will create National Centers for Biomedical Computing. NIGMS is deeply committed to supporting these centers, which will develop a broad range of computational technologies and information tools for biomedical research. The centers will also help train new computational biologists and will collaborate with individual investigators on specific projects.
In addition to the initiatives discussed above, several roadmap activities in the New Pathways to Discovery category are closely related to NIGMS' mission areas. These are molecular libraries, probes for imaging dynamic processes in living cells, proteomics technology development, and nanomedicine. Initiatives in the Research Teams of the Future category tie into the Institute's long-standing efforts to promote interdisciplinary research and training and to encourage high-risk research.