USC Michelson & G-Protein Coupled Receptors

With the upcoming advent of the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, USC expands its Bioscience initiative by co-founding a nonprofit consortium devoted to foster 3-D models of key proteins. Following Dr. Gary K. Michelson‘s ideal to promote biomedical research in Los Angeles, this field of research will be one of the first to be housed at the USC Michelson Center.

G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), poorly understood but critical to human physiology, constitute a large protein family of receptors that sense molecules outside the cell and activate inside signal transduction pathways and, ultimately, cellular responses.

In order to better understand the working process of those proteins, USC is joining strengths with two Chinese academic partners (Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, the iHuman Institute at ShanghaiTech University) and three worldwide industry leaders (United States’ Amgen, France’s Sanofi, Japan’s ONO) to create a nonprofit organization, the GPCR Consortium, that will generate high-resolution images of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs).

All research outputs, such as 3-D structures of GPCRs and constructs, will be compiled and placed in the public domain to stimulate research. With this open source mentality, consortium leaders hope to attract up to five additional industry members over time.

“USC is committed to innovation in biomedical research that requires large consortia of academic and industrial partners. We can only begin to imagine the breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases that will be a direct outcome of the work done by GPCR scientists, right here in Los Angeles and across the world,” USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay said.

Gary K. Michelson & Steve Kay at the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony Luncheon on October 23rd, 2014

“USC is committed to innovation in biomedical research that requires large consortia of academic and industrial partners. We can only begin to imagine the breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases that will be a direct outcome of the work done by GPCR scientists, right here in Los Angeles and across the world,” USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay alongside Dr. Gary K. Michelson.

Gary K. Michelson & Steve Kay at the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony Luncheon on October 23rd, 2014

“USC is committed to innovation in biomedical research that requires large consortia of academic and industrial partners. We can only begin to imagine the breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases that will be a direct outcome of the work done by GPCR scientists, right here in Los Angeles and across the world,” USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay alongside Dr. Gary K. Michelson.

Gary K. Michelson & Steve Kay at the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony Luncheon on October 23rd, 2014

“USC is committed to innovation in biomedical research that requires large consortia of academic and industrial partners. We can only begin to imagine the breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases that will be a direct outcome of the work done by GPCR scientists, right here in Los Angeles and across the world,” USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay alongside Dr. Gary K. Michelson.

Gary K. Michelson & Steve Kay at the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony Luncheon on October 23rd, 2014

“USC is committed to innovation in biomedical research that requires large consortia of academic and industrial partners. We can only begin to imagine the breakthroughs in the treatment of diseases that will be a direct outcome of the work done by GPCR scientists, right here in Los Angeles and across the world,” USC Dornsife Dean Steve Kay alongside Dr. Gary K. Michelson.

The announcement comes shortly after USC officially began work on the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience, made possible by a $50 million gift from philanthropist and retired orthopaedic spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson.

At the groundbreaking of the USC Michelson Center, a joint collaboration between the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Michelson predicted that Los Angeles would become for biomedical research what Silicon Valley has become for information technology — tackling the grand challenges in life sciences that have the potential to allow people to live longer and healthier.

At the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014, Michelson predicted that Los Angeles would become for biomedical research what Silicon Valley has become for information technology — tackling the grand challenges in life sciences that have the potential to allow people to live longer and healthier.

At the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014, Michelson predicted that Los Angeles would become for biomedical research what Silicon Valley has become for information technology — tackling the grand challenges in life sciences that have the potential to allow people to live longer and healthier.

At the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014, Michelson predicted that Los Angeles would become for biomedical research what Silicon Valley has become for information technology — tackling the grand challenges in life sciences that have the potential to allow people to live longer and healthier.

At the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014, Michelson predicted that Los Angeles would become for biomedical research what Silicon Valley has become for information technology — tackling the grand challenges in life sciences that have the potential to allow people to live longer and healthier.

Between the creation of the USC Michelson Center and the formation of the GPCR Consortium, Los Angeles has taken a significant leap toward that goal. The project was started by USC Dornsife’s Raymond C. Stevens, who is focused on the structure and function of GPCRs and human cell signaling.

“Industry and academic consortia like the not-for-profit Structural Genomics Consortium are becoming a more common model to support scientific research on an international scale, including the open exchange of data and reagents,” said Stevens, Provost Professor of Biology and Chemistry. “By working together, we can maximize the impact of our research on human health and disease while providing a means to support early stage basic research and bring together academic and industry scientists in a productive working relationship.”

GPCRs make up about 30 to 50 percent of all known targets for pharmaceuticals to treat disease in the human body. With 826 GPCRs controlling the human body, the consortium will initially focus on GPCRs related to diabetes, cancer and mental disorders. The goal of the new consortium is to define the structures of at least 200 GPCRs, which will allow scientists to design pharmaceuticals that will more effectively target them.

The 3-D modeling of proteins project was started by USC Dornsife’s Raymond Stevens, who is focused on the structure and function of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and human cell signaling.

The 3-D modeling of proteins project was started by USC Dornsife’s Raymond Stevens, who is focused on the structure and function of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and human cell signaling. Illustration by Katya Kadyshevskaya, courtesy of Raymond C. Stevens.

The 3-D modeling of proteins project was started by USC Dornsife’s Raymond Stevens, who is focused on the structure and function of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and human cell signaling.

The 3-D modeling of proteins project was started by USC Dornsife’s Raymond Stevens, who is focused on the structure and function of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and human cell signaling. Illustration by Katya Kadyshevskaya, courtesy of Raymond C. Stevens.

The 3-D modeling of proteins project was started by USC Dornsife’s Raymond Stevens, who is focused on the structure and function of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and human cell signaling.

The 3-D modeling of proteins project was started by USC Dornsife’s Raymond Stevens, who is focused on the structure and function of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and human cell signaling. Illustration by Katya Kadyshevskaya, courtesy of Raymond C. Stevens.

The 3-D modeling of proteins project was started by USC Dornsife’s Raymond Stevens, who is focused on the structure and function of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and human cell signaling.

The 3-D modeling of proteins project was started by USC Dornsife’s Raymond Stevens, who is focused on the structure and function of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) and human cell signaling. Illustration by Katya Kadyshevskaya, courtesy of Raymond C. Stevens.

“The academic groups involved in the consortium have published both the first human GPCR structure and the majority of GPCR structure-function and discovery data, from all major classes of the GPCR family,” said Mike Hanson, president of the GPCR Consortium. “The importance of this family of proteins for human health cannot be overstated as communication with the environment is a hallmark of higher functioning organisms and GPCRs play a central role in this process.”

The consortium is data-centric, with the primary objective being dissemination of protein structural coordinates, reagents and supporting data to both the consortium members and the broader scientific community.

“We are very pleased to be one of the founding industry members of this prestigious consortium,” said Mingqiang Zhang, head of the Amgen Asia R&D Center. “By working together with the leading academics in GPCR structural biology, many of whom are co-located with our Asia R&D Center in Shanghai, we can better synergize our effort in understanding human biology at [the] molecular level and advancing drug discovery in diseases where GPCRs play significant roles, including cancer, metabolic and CNS disorders.”

Kazuhito Kawabata, Ph.D., executive officer and director of discovery and research of ONO and member of the GPCR board of directors, added, “We believe the advances we will make with the GPCR Consortium and share with the scientific community will speed the development of better health care to prevent, detect, diagnose and treat human diseases.”

Hualiang Jiang, director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, said the GPCR consortium will greatly enhance the collaboration between industry and academia.

“It will also produce valuable data around GPCR structure and function,” Jiang said. “I am sure that this consortium will attract more and more attention from industry and academic communities alike.”

Raymond C. Stevens, joined by David Cohen, Gary K. Michelson, C.L. Nikias, addresses the audience at the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014.

“Industry and academic consortia like the not-for-profit Structural Genomics Consortium are becoming a more common model to support scientific research on an international scale, including the open exchange of data and reagents,” said Raymond C. Stevens, Provost Professor of Biology and Chemistry at USC Dornsife and head of The Stevens Laboratory. “By working together, we can maximize the impact of our research on human health and disease while providing a means to support early stage basic research and bring together academic and industry scientists in a productive working relationship.”

Raymond C. Stevens, joined by David Cohen, Gary K. Michelson, C.L. Nikias, addresses the audience at the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014.

“Industry and academic consortia like the not-for-profit Structural Genomics Consortium are becoming a more common model to support scientific research on an international scale, including the open exchange of data and reagents,” said Raymond C. Stevens, Provost Professor of Biology and Chemistry at USC Dornsife and head of The Stevens Laboratory. “By working together, we can maximize the impact of our research on human health and disease while providing a means to support early stage basic research and bring together academic and industry scientists in a productive working relationship.”

Raymond C. Stevens, joined by David Cohen, Gary K. Michelson, C.L. Nikias, addresses the audience at the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014.

“Industry and academic consortia like the not-for-profit Structural Genomics Consortium are becoming a more common model to support scientific research on an international scale, including the open exchange of data and reagents,” said Raymond C. Stevens, Provost Professor of Biology and Chemistry at USC Dornsife and head of The Stevens Laboratory. “By working together, we can maximize the impact of our research on human health and disease while providing a means to support early stage basic research and bring together academic and industry scientists in a productive working relationship.”

Raymond C. Stevens, joined by David Cohen, Gary K. Michelson, C.L. Nikias, addresses the audience at the USC Michelson Center Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 23rd, 2014.

“Industry and academic consortia like the not-for-profit Structural Genomics Consortium are becoming a more common model to support scientific research on an international scale, including the open exchange of data and reagents,” said Raymond C. Stevens, Provost Professor of Biology and Chemistry at USC Dornsife and head of The Stevens Laboratory. “By working together, we can maximize the impact of our research on human health and disease while providing a means to support early stage basic research and bring together academic and industry scientists in a productive working relationship.”

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