Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

The NIHghts who say ‘no’

Apologies to our international readers for the U.S.-centric post, but the National Institutes of Health announced earlier today that PAR-07-353, a grant involving Cheminformatics Research Centers, has been canceled for “programmatic reasons.” For those of you who haven’t heard of the Cheminformatics Research Centers, they are part of the Molecular Libraries Roadmap Program (MLP), which is

an integrated set of initiatives aimed at developing and using selective and potent chemical probes for basic research … [The MLP] was proposed to introduce high-throughput screening approaches to small molecule discovery, formerly limited to the pharmaceutical research industry, into the public sector… [and] is made up of the following major components: (1) access to a library of compounds (Molecular Libraries Small Molecule Repository); (2) access to bioassays provided by the larger research community; (3) support for the development of breakthrough instrumentation technologies; (4) access to a network of screening and chemical probe generation centers (MLPCN) where assays are screened and probe development is undertaken; (5) Pubchem, the primary portal through which the screening results of the MLPCN are made public and (6) the Cheminformatics Research Centers (CRCs) with multiple roles focused on high-level data analysis and dissemination with a focus on developing new understanding of the cellular processes (genes and pathways).

One reason why this is so surprising is because the grants were due next week (June 28th). I imagine the timing of this decision (and the decision itself) is bound to upset a number of people in this community, especially since many applicants were probably working around the clock to get their grant submitted before the (now non-existent) deadline…

Does anyone know more about this story or why the grant was canceled?


Joshua Finkelstein (Senior Editor, Nature)


  1. Report this comment

    Joerg Kurt Wegner said:

    This is very disappointing and results basically in ‘we screen like we have screen the last decades’.

    I personally would seriously like to know the rational for that decision. Are they telling us that everyone has already the time understanding the ‘chemical space’? I have problems believing this.

  2. Report this comment

    Great Molecular Crapshoot said:

    Programmatic reasons sound a lot like the technical reasons that airlines offer as explanation for everything from departing 15 hours late to the 4500 miles that now separate you and your luggage. Presumably the molecular libraries are still going ahead. Building screening collections like these from scratch will be challenging especially because of the heterogeneous nature of the likely user group. Will the abrupt denouement of the chemoinformatic initiative make these potential users wary and more difficult to engage?