Natural products are a prolific source of therapeutic drugs because they have been selected through evolution to be biologically active. New opportunities for natural products development made possible by genomic discoveries are poised to rapidly expand the utility of this critically important resource.
To further stimulate studies in this area, we have just issued the final funding opportunity announcement for Genomes to Natural Products (U01) research. Applications are due by June 10, 2014.
We’re looking for multidisciplinary teams of experts in natural products, synthetic biology, bioinformatics, genomics and analytical chemistry to develop high-throughput natural products discovery platforms based on a synthetic biology approach that leverages genomics and metagenomics data. The goal is to deliver broadly applicable, context-independent (i.e., independent of organism and/or natural products class) and game-changing tools, methods and resources in natural products discovery. The funded research also should lead to a deeper understanding of the regulation of natural products biosynthesis.
In addition to talking with potential collaborators, I encourage you to discuss your application with me.
Last September, I described a concept clearance for an initiative to develop new approaches in natural products discovery that had just been approved by the NIGMS Advisory Council. The resulting request for applications on Genomes to Natural Products (U01) has now been published in the NIH Guide.
NIGMS, along with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), will support multidisciplinary research to develop high-throughput, broadly applicable approaches to natural products discovery that integrate genomics, synthetic biology and bioinformatics. We anticipate that up to four awards will be made through the cooperative agreement mechanism, totaling up to $9 million in Fiscal Year 2014. For NCCAM-specific interest areas and application requirements, see NOT-AT-13-005.
Applications are due by July 17. Potential applicants are invited to participate in an optional online Q&A session on April 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT. Access this event at https://webmeeting.nih.gov/rfa-gnpn/ and sign in as a “guest” to be able to submit questions.
Letters of intent are not needed, but depending on which funding component’s areas of interest are more relevant to the proposal, I strongly recommend that potential applicants e-mail me or my counterpart at NCCAM, Craig Hopp to discuss submission plans.
Natural products have been a prolific source of therapeutic drugs because they have been selected through evolution to be biologically active. New opportunities for natural products development are being made by genomic discoveries and are poised to reinvigorate this critically important area.
At its September meeting, the NIGMS Advisory Council approved a new initiative that will use the cooperative agreement (U01) mechanism to support collaborative and multidisciplinary research aimed at developing high-throughput, broadly applicable approaches for natural products discovery that integrate genomics, synthetic biology and bioinformatics. Research under this initiative will provide the scientific community with tools and knowledge for inferring the basic structure of natural products and for producing natural products, regardless of whether the source is cultivable or the biosynthetic operon is expressed in cultures.
We expect the funding opportunity announcement to be published in the NIH Guide early in 2013. In the meantime, I encourage you to start talking with potential collaborators and thinking about applying.
For more on the current challenges of natural products discovery, read a Nature Chemistry article written by NIGMS Advisory Council member Scott Miller of Yale University and Jon Clardy of Harvard Medical School that summarizes discussions during our 2009 Natural Products and Biomedical Science symposium.