A new research institute to expand protein science and enhance drug discovery has been launched at Harvard Medical School—the Institute for Protein Innovation (IPI). Its goal is the creation of an open-source library of validated mAbs to all human proteins.

The institute received a $5 million grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, an investment agency that implements $1 billion in state investment funds. In addition, the IPI’s co-founder, Timothy A. Springer, Ph.D., Latham Family Professor at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital, gave the institute a $10 million foundational grant.

“Over the past 20 years, proteins have transformed drug discovery and biomedical research, serving as the targets of almost all drugs and in many cases as therapeutic drugs themselves,” said Dr. Springer. “Despite their pivotal importance in research and medicine, proteins lag behind DNA and RNA in institutional research support and funding. The IPI fills this gap, providing intellectual capital from academia to empower protein research and pioneer new therapeutics that improve human health.”

Antibodies that arise from the IPI's work will be validated by the international biomedical community. The institute plans to create a public web portal with information related to DNA sequence, protein expression, and functional validation of these reagents. By democratizing these data and reagents, and making their source code available for further improvement, the IPI hopes to accelerate the development of new therapeutics and complement the efforts of existing large-scale scientific initiatives, such as the Human Cell Atlas.

“Advances in protein science are transforming biomedical discovery, and this field holds the promise to redefine the way we diagnose and treat some of the most devastating diseases,” said George Q. Daley, M.D., Ph.D., dean of Harvard Medical School. “Bringing our ever-expanding knowledge in proteomics closer to therapeutics is essential. This collaboration is a powerful illustration of the fruitful cross-pollination that occurs when academia, the public and private sectors, philanthropy, and biotech come together.”

The IPI has already formed a board of directors and a scientific advisory board, consisting mostly of Harvard Medical School professors. It will be housed at Harvard Medical School for its first year of operation and then move to the Longwood Medical Area once long-term laboratory and office space is obtained.

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