OMRF announced today a new strategic partnership with the Institute of Biophysics, Academy of Chinese Sciences in Beijing.
The institutions will share researchers and equipment in the field of structural biology. The collaboration will include “exchange” visits by researchers at each institution aimed at combining efforts to understand the molecular structure of disease.
Founded in 1958, the Institute of Biophysics is one of China’s premiere research facilities. With 64 principal scientists and an estimated 600 research and support staff, the IBP focuses on the fields of protein science and brain and cognitive sciences.
This represents the fourth strategic partnership OMRF has developed in the past 18 months with a foreign research institute. OMRF has also partnered with:
- The Rajiv Ghandi Centre for Biotechnology in Thiruvananthapuram, India (cardiovascular research)
- The Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (infectious disease and vaccinations)
- The Christian Medical College in Vellore, India (genetics of lupus)
“OMRF is a relatively small research institute focusing on a few key areas: autoimmune diseases, cancer and cardiovascular diseases,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “Diseases are so complex that it takes teams of researchers across a variety of specialties to make scientific advancements. These partnerships help us ‘fill in the blanks’ and speed the process of medical innovation.”
The move puts the foundation in a better place to expand several areas of research, said Tim Mather, Ph.D., OMRF’s Director of Research Administration. The IBP has the facilities and equipment to do large-scale crystallography studies, which can be used to reveal the atomic structures of molecules.
Crystallography allows scientists to see how microscopic chemicals fit together and interact and has become vital in the development of new drugs. OMRF programs that will benefit from the partnership with the IBP include:
- Rodger McEver, M.D., will use crystallography to explore the role of circulating blood cells that attach to blood vessel surfaces during injury or infections.
- Roberto Pezza, Ph.D., will expand his research on how cell division is related to birth defects.
- John Harley, M.D., Ph.D., and Swapan Nath, Ph.D., will look for the structural make up of a protein mutation that may affect lupus.
“Crystallography is a large and expensive field. You can’t do it halfway and have much success,” Prescott said. “It’s also important in a field known as ‘intelligent drug design.’”
“Our main goal is simple—improve human health,” Prescott said. “To do that, we work with organizations with similar interests but different approaches. We think of it as complementary science, and it allows us to work more efficiently and make more discoveries.”