Center for Integrative Molecular Biosciences
The Center for Integrative Molecular Biosciences (CIMBio) was created in 2002 to foster collaborative
research dedicated to elucidating the high-resolution structures, mechanisms of action, and
in vivo dynamic behaviors of the cells molecular machines. The past year was notable for
a number of events and achievements.
A total of 40 students from the United States,
Europe, and Asia attended the 9-day Practical Course in Molecular Microscopy run by the National
Resource for Automated Molecular Microscopy, our Biomedical Technology Resource Center sponsored
by the National Center for Research Resources. Many of the leading scientists in the field participated
in lectures, research seminars, and practical sessions that covered the theory and practice of
electron microscopy and image analysis. The formal lectures and the research seminars attracted
many attendees from the local scientific community. In all, 29 instructors and 20 assistants were
involved during the course. The event was a resounding success and will be offered again in November
2005. Financial support for the course was provided by the National Center for Research Resources,
Bethesda, Maryland; the Agouron Institute, Pasadena, California; FEI Company, Hillsboro, Oregon;
Gatan Inc., Pleasanton, California; Tietz Video and Image Processing Systems, Gauting, Germany;
and Scripps Research.
Gaudenz Danuser joined the CIMBio faculty
to establish the Laboratory for Computational Cell Biology. Dr. Danusers interests are
in analyzing the behavior of the cells complex molecular machinery. Members of his group
develop computational tools for predictive modeling of dynamic cell processes at multiple scales,
and they have already established an exciting collaboration with Clare Waterman-Storer and her
group to develop software for automatic quantitative analysis of protein dynamics in time-lapse,
epifluorescence light microscopy images.
Under the direction of Peter Kuhn, researchers
participating in the collaboration between Scripps Research and the Institute for Advanced Biomedical
Sciences at the Palo Alto Research Center made excellent scientific and technical progress during
the past year. They developed new algorithms for glycan mass spectrometry analysis together with
members of the Consortium for Functional Glycomics and for crystal identification together with
members of the Joint Center for Structural Genomics. Proof-of-concept experiments were successfully
completed on 2 emerging technologies: an enthalpy array with nanocalorimeters that will allow
direct, in-parallel measurement of hundreds of molecular interactions in the proteome and a fiber
array scanning technology cytometer for reliable, high-speed detection of rare cancer cells
in blood (in collaboration with the Scripps Cancer Center).
Dr. Kuhn was also awarded a 5-year Biodefense
Proteomics Research Program contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
to carry out proteomics research on the coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome.
This award will support a comprehensive cataloging and molecular characterization of all viral
related proteins and associated functions at the viral and host levels. This project involves
colleagues at Scripps Research, Scripps Palo Alto Research Center; and the Burnham Institute,
La Jolla, California.
This year CIMBio researchers, led by Marianne
Manchester, were awarded a $10 million program project grant to study the interactions between
anthrax toxin and its receptors and to develop novel multivalent nanoparticles to act as antitoxins.
This program combines many disciplines, including structural biology, chemistry, molecular
biology, in vivo analysis, and nanotechnology. The program partners laboratories at Scripps
Research, including those of Dr. Manchester, J.E. Johnson, T. Lin, and M.G. Finn in CIMBio, those
of A. Schneemann and V. Reddy in the Department of Molecular Biology, and those of John Young at the
Salk Institute, La Jolla, California, and John Collier at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Already this program has resulted in biochemical and structural characterization of the toxin-receptor
interaction and in the development of monomeric and multivalent antitoxins that are effective
in animal models.
These successes illustrate the collaborative,
interdisciplinary activities that are the lifeblood of CIMBio. The enthusiasm and commitment
of our faculty, staff, fellows, and students to our collaborative mission are also evident at the
standing-room-only weekly forums. These short seminars are designed to promote communication
between researchers involved in technology development and biological applications at CIMBio.
We look forward to the coming year with enthusiasm as additional world-class research groups occupy
the new laboratories awaiting them.