Yale Awarded $18.1 Million for Proteomics Research

Yale has received an $18.1 million award to establish one of 10 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Proteomics Centers that will develop innovative proteomic technologies to diagnose and treat heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders.

Proteomics is the identification, characterization and quantification of all proteins involved in a particular pathway, organelle, cell, tissue, organ or organism that can be studied in concert to provide accurate and comprehensive data about that system.

The Yale Center will develop new technologies in two areas: proteome profiling and synthetic peptide-based reagents for blocking the activities of specific proteins within targeted cells and tissues.

The award made by the NHLBI of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will involve 21 Yale faculty in 12 departments as well as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Biopolymer/Keck Biotechnology Resource Laboratory. The principal investigator is Kenneth Williams, director of the Keck Laboratory and professor of molecular biophysics and biochemistry. The co-investigator is William Sessa, director of the Vascular Cell Signaling & Therapeutics Program and professor of pharmacology.

“By developing two complementary technologies in parallel we hope to use protein profiling to identify key proteins involved in diseases of the heart, lung and blood and then develop novel reagents capable of specifically blocking the activities of these proteins,” Williams said. “The overall goal is to increase our understanding of the disease process, which in turn should lead to more effective treatment.

Michael Snyder, director of the Yale Center for Genomics and Proteomics, the Lewis B. Cullman Professor of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and chair of the department, said, “This grant will significantly enhance the development of proteomics at Yale and expand the number of faculty engaged in these state of the art technologies. It is a wonderful tribute to Bill Sessa, Ken Williams and the Keck Center and to their contributions to proteomics.”

In a related award, Yale School of Medicine also received from the NIH a $1.4 million grant - the largest instrumentation grant in the school’s history - to purchase a mass spectrometer that will support research by the NHLBI/Proteomics Center as well as by other Yale and non-Yale investigators. Williams is also the principal investigator on this award, which involved 16 Yale faculty and six faculty from other institutions. This state-of-the-art mass spectrometer will be located in the Yale Cancer Center/Keck Laboratory Mass Spectrometry Resource, which is co-directed by Walter McMurray and Kathryn Stone.

A unique feature of the NHLBI Proteomics Center is that it will bring together two groups of researchers: those with highly regarded research programs in areas such as atherosclerosis, blood diseases, hypertension, inflammation, and immunological rejection of transplanted organs with investigators who are leaders in designing the cell permeable synthetic biomolecule delivery systems that hold enormous promise for developing entirely new strategies for disease treatment.

The Proteomics Center also will be strongly supported by the HHMI/Keck Biotechnology Resource Laboratory, which is one of the largest laboratories of its kind in academia. It will also be supported by faculty who are developing new approaches to the study of proteomics and who are experts in building the databases needed to effectively analyze, archive and interpret the enormous amounts of protein expression data that will be produced by this research.

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