The CCSB focuses on bridging the gap between knowledge of the human genome and knowledge of the function of new and predicted genome products. To accomplish this, a quantitative understanding of the three-dimensional structure of proteins and, in particular, their interactions with other macromolecules, such as the membrane, will be the pivotal challenge in biomedical research in the next few decades. The CCSB represents a strategic investment by UAB in its vision to become a leader in biomedical research and training. The Center will make that vision a reality through implementation and execution of an interdisciplinary research and training program focused on computational and structural biology.
The CCSB integrates skills and resources from a range of research areas including: High Performance Computing and Visualization, Macromolecular Modeling and Dynamics, Image Processing, Cryo-Electron Microscopy, X-ray Crystallography, and NMR Spectroscopy. The collaborative effort of these cores enables the development of two new areas of research that uniquely define the CCSB -- membrane protein structure and dynamics and protein folding and assembly.
Membrane protein structure and dynamics. The structure and dynamics of membrane proteins represent a largely untapped frontier in basic and translational biomedical research. Although transmembrane proteins make up 30% of the open reading frames in the human genome and have been the target of the majority of recently developed drugs, they make up only about 100 of the roughly 22,000 proteins that have been crystallized and their structure determined. The development of this center’s interdisciplinary and comprehensive approach for accurately determining transmembrane protein structure and dynamics will help establish UAB at the forefront of this critical area of research.
Protein folding and assembly. Proteins are biology's nanomachines. Before proteins can carry out their biochemical function, they self assemble or fold. The mechanisms of protein folding, while critical and fundamental to virtually all of biology, remain elusive. Thus, protein structure determination directly from the genome using computational biology almost certainly will be the most efficient means of bridging the gap between the genome and its protein products in the 21st century. Scientists will be able to determine the macromolecular structures of the products of the tens of thousands of genes whose structure and function are unknown; from their structures, to determine their functions; and from the resulting structure-function maps, to design drugs to treat diseases associated with individual genes.
Organizational Structure :
The organizational structure of the CCSB achieves optimal utilization of resources and provides for quality control and oversight for all activities within the Center. Dr. Jere Segrest, the Director, is responsible for all Center activities. Three committees provide oversight and guidance for the Center. The Transinstitutional Advisory Committee (TIAC) participates in strategic planning, disseminates ideas transinstitutionally, reviews resource allocations and sets recruitment priorities. The Executive Committeeprovides day-to-day scientific and administrative oversight for the research, cores, and enrichment activities; acting to ensure communication, linkages, and integration across the core areas; evaluating the progress of the cores; identifying opportunities for funding; and providing reports to the TIAC. The External Advisory Committee (EAC) is charged with providing guidance for the development of the center, and contributing a national perspective.