Give Input on Structural Biology Resource and Infrastructure Needs

Earlier this year, I told you about the formation of two committees focused on Protein Structure Initiative (PSI) transition planning. These committees are charged with determining what unique resources and capabilities developed during the PSI should be preserved after the initiative ends and how this preservation should be done.

An important part of this process is getting input from the community, so we have just issued a request for information (RFI), NOT-GM-14-115, seeking comments about structural biology resources that have a high impact on the community, whether those resources have been supported through the PSI or by other means. We also want to hear what you think about the future of structural biology-related technology development, which has been an important feature of the PSI.

While the RFI invites comments on these specific topics, you should not feel limited to them—we welcome any comments that you feel are relevant.

To respond to the RFI, send an e-mail to by May 23, 2014. When we compile the responses, we’ll remove any personal identifiers like names and e-mail addresses and only use de-identified comments.

If you have any questions about the RFI or the transition committees, please let me know.

One comment on “Give Input on Structural Biology Resource and Infrastructure Needs

  1. Methods and resources are very hard to get and keep funded, but are also very fundamental to real progress. This was a key part of PSI that is being ignored by its most vocal critics. Criticism is easier than craftsmanship, but craftsmanship is a better driver of progress than criticism, especially long-term.

    I was never a part of the PSI or its centers as I had concerns with what I perceived as over-stating the value of folds and the impact of large-scale NIH centers for complex multi-parameter, multi-dimensional problems as compared to sequencing, which is one-dimensional with 4 bases and the same chemistry. However, the PSI did provide funding for key people providing methods and resources that have had major positive impacts for many including myself. These people, who are providing methods and resources, are valuable parts of the scientific community and many have become dependent upon PSI funding to a large extent. Stopping funding for these components of the PSI will have severe damage to the structural biology community and its ability to provide fundamental data with long-lasting and major impacts on medical research. Methods and resources are often hard to create, but are easy to destroy, and will likely be difficult and expensive to recreate once gone.

    Structural biology is a goose that lays golden eggs for NIH by providing critical information that many NIH projects are using for real progress on disease and interventions. Funding for methods and resources is too low already, and this lack is starting to endanger and damage process. I predict that damaging structural biology by cutting the already too limited funding for methods and resources will have a larger negative impact on “translation” than cutting direct translational funding 5-fold. The adage of first doing no harm should be recalled in treating NIH ills.

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