SSGCID and CSGID Pioneer Discovery of New Pathogen Protein Structures

Mon, 11/19/2012

The Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease and the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases announced today they will receive up to $52.4 million over five years, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.  For the first year, the centers will receive a total of approximately $9.1 million.  The contracts will support the centers’ continuing research into new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to combat deadly emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases. The funding is a renewal of NIAID contracts first received by the two centers in 2007, and depending on contract options, could total $52.4 million.

The collaboration between the Seattle Structural Genomics Center for Infectious Disease (SSGCID) and the Center for Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases (CSGID) is aimed at state-of-the-art structural genomics technologies to characterize the three-dimensional structures of proteins from more than 40 bacterial, protozoan and viral pathogens. Among the pathogens studied are those responsible for the plague, anthrax, salmonellosis, cholera, tuberculosis (TB), leprosy, amoebic dysentery and influenza.

The CSGID is a consortium of research groups at nine institutions.  It is led by Professor Wayne Anderson, Ph.D., of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and includes members at University of Chicago, University of Toronto, University of Virginia, J.C. Venter Institute, University College London, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Washington University and University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center.  The SSGCID, a consortium of Washington-based organizations led by Professor Peter Myler, Ph.D., of Seattle BioMed, includes collaborators at Emerald Bio, the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Battelle Memorial Institute). Originally contracted in 2007 to solve 375 protein structures at each center, both CSGID and SSGCID significantly surpassed their goals by determining a total of 1080 structures during the five years of the contracts.  Currently SSGCID and CSGID are the most productive structural genomics centers in the world, having provided 303 protein structures to the Protein Data Bank (PDB) this year. 

The findings from both centers are freely available to scientific researchers to study and compare, providing a highly detailed blueprint for fighting infectious disease and bioterrorism. “Knowledge of the protein structures will be enormously helpful in forming a scientific foundation for drug development, development of new diagnostic tools and better understanding of how these infectious organisms attack their host and replicate,” Myler said. The importance of this work is highlighted by more than 80 scientific articles published by the two centers, which also showcase new methodologies developed by each center.  “Even the protein structures that have been deposited into the PDB by the two centers, but not published in scientific journals yet, are already being used by the scientific research community,” Anderson said.  “Our analysis indicates that a large number of papers (over 300) published by other researchers have made use of data CSGID and SSGCID deposited in the Protein Data Bank.”

SSGCID and CSGID Continue Critical Research

With the renewal of the NIAID contract, the SSGCID and CSGID aim to continue this vital research by determining the structures of an another 800 proteins over the next 5 years, in order to advance understanding of these proteins and help develop new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics to combat deadly infectious diseases. Both the SSGCID and CSGID will continue to utilize and further develop their high throughput protein structure determination pipelines. They will also continue to make all materials generated from the contract, including structures, clones and proteins, freely available to the scientific community.  In addition, both SSGCID and CSGID will undertake three functional characterization projects each year.  The functional studies will experimentally characterize the molecular functional role and biochemical properties of selected targets whose structure was determined by each center. Examples of such projects may include development of inhibitors, which is the next step in the structure-based drug development pathway, and characterization of the biological role of specific target proteins.


Seattle BioMed is the largest independent, non-profit organization in the US focused solely on infectious disease research. Our research is the foundation for new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics that benefit those who need our help most: the 14 million who will otherwise die each year from infectious diseases, including malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. Founded in 1976, Seattle BioMed has nearly 350 staff members. By partnering with key collaborators around the globe, we strive to make discoveries that will save lives sooner. For more information, visit


Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, founded in 1859, attracts talented individuals to its faculty, staff, and student body through its cutting-edge research initiatives, superb clinical facilities, global outlook, and innovative curriculum. Consistently ranked high on the list of best research medical schools, Feinberg is part of the vibrant educational and cultural community of Northwestern University, an independent private institution founded in 1851, and is a central component of a premier academic medical center, Northwestern Medicine. Located on the Northwestern campus in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, Feinberg has built a national reputation for excellence through a strong history of collaborative, interdisciplinary medical education and research. Feinberg’s top-rated clinical affiliates include Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation, as well as numerous hospitals and clinics across the region. To learn more, visit


The SSGCID was originally funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) through contract number HHSN272200700057C and has been renewed for an additional five years (contract number HHSN272201200025C). The CSGID was originally funded by NIAID through contract HHSN272200700058C and was renewed for an additional five years (contract number HHSN272201200026C).


For more information, contact
Susan Brown, Vice President, Institutional Advancement