October 2012

NIH to fund new metabolomics cores

The National Institutes of Health announced last month that it would invest up to $51.4 million over five years to speed up research in metabolomics, a field that focuses on the molecules that are produced or consumed during the chemical reactions of metabolism. Members of the American Society for Biochemistry of Molecular Biology will lead two of three newly funded research cores and a newly funded data center.

Metabolism is an important process for the maintenance of life. The collection and analysis of metabolites, known collectively as a metabolome, provides useful information to researchers and clinicians on the state of the health of a cell or body. Metabolomics technologies that will be housed in the three regional cores will help researchers potentially measure hundreds of metabolites and quickly analyze the causes and effects of many diseases.

Under the grants awarded by the NIH Common Fund, researchers will be able to take part in new initiatives for data sharing, training, standards synthesis and technology development in this emerging field. The fund will invest $14.3 million in the cores this year, with a possible $51.4 million funding line over the next five years, according to the statement.

The University of Michigan, the University of California, Davis, and the Research Triangle Park Institute in North Carolina were the first three Regional Comprehensive Research Cores to be named this funding cycle, and two or three more cores could be named later. ASBMB members Charles Burant and Oliver Fiehn will head up the efforts in Michigan and California, respectively.

In addition to the three cores, the University of California, San Diego, will house a Data Repository and Coordination Center. The center will function as a hub for all the other cores to organize and maintain data to present to the broader biomedical research community, according to the NIH’s statement. This will allow metabolomics researchers to work collaboratively. The center, which will be led by ASBMB member Shankar Subramaniam, will receive $2 million this year and up to $6 million over the next five years.

For more information, see the NIH announcement here: www.nih.gov/news/health/sep2012/od-19.htm.


Photo of Kevin McPhersonKevin McPherson (kevin.mcpherson@emory.edu) is a junior majoring in chemistry at Emory University in Atlanta. He is also a research assistant in the Hartzell lab in the department of cell biology at Emory School of Medicine.

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