Brussels, 13 Feb 2004
The European Commission has given a significant boost to structural genomics by awarding ten million euro of Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) funding to an Integrated Project called BIOXHIT.
The project will create a European platform for scientists working in the field of 'biological crystallography'. The best European technologies in structural biology will be brought together, further developed and then disseminated through a number of training centres created specifically to spread newly acquired know-how.
'This grant from the EC will definitely make Europe a substantial player in this area,' explains Victor Lamzin, from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) coordinating the project. 'As well as uniting technologies, BIOXHIT will unite other European and national activities into one strong European alliance, giving us the strength to be a major competitor in structural genomics on a global scale. Similar initiatives are already underway in the US and Japan, our two main competitors in this area.'
BIOHXIT, which stands for 'biocrystallography on a highly integrated technology platform' for European structural genomics, brings together partners, including all of Europe's synchrotrons, from 17 different countries.
BIOHXIT will build three-dimensional 'architectural' models of biological molecules, without which, it is currently impossible to comprehend how proteins and other molecules operate in cells.
Although all the necessary knowledge is currently available, each step of the three-dimensional analysis is at a different stage in different laboratories. BIOXHIT will, therefore, gather and integrate the best technology in each phase and aim to improve the sample-handling process; the equipment required to identify X-ray patterns; and the computers and software needed to model structures.
For further information on the FP6 thematic priority 'life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health', please visit: http://www.cordis.lu/lifescihealth/home. html