The LIPID MAPS consortium has announced the investment of £1.4 million in funding from the Medical Research Council for the LIPID MAPS database, a resource that supports underpinning mechanistic studies on a wide range of biomedical research areas – from tissues, model systems, microbes, through to human epidemiology.
The funding will allow the LIPID MAP partners: Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, the Babraham Institute, the University of California San Diego, University of Edinburgh and Swansea University, to develop new tools and resources focused on systems biology of lipids.
Lead Investigator, Professor Valerie O'Donnell, Cardiff University School of Medicine and honorary group leader at the Babraham Institute, said: “We are delighted with this funding for our new partnership. Lipids, commonly known as fats, are essential for life but are also centrally involved in the development of diseases such as heart disease and dementia.”
“By establishing this new partnership, we can generate tools and resources to support systems biology of lipids, as applied to both fundamental and applied biomedical and clinical research,” said co-investigator Simon Andrews, Head of Bioinformatics at the Babraham Institute.
The new funding will allow the partners to develop new big data resources focused on systems biology of lipids, enabling mechanistic studies on a wide range of biomedical research areas – from tissues, model systems, microbes, through to human epidemiology.
"There is a huge amount we still don’t know relating to how many unique lipids our cells contain and how these change during development and disease. To further our understanding, it’s essential that we have collaborative open access resources such as those hosted on LIPID MAPS.” added co-investigator Ed Dennis, University of California San Diego.
The project will bring together a new consortium hosted under the LIPID MAPS umbrella, with a focus on curating molecular and biochemistry information, as well as generating new informatics tools, to facilitate lipid researchers worldwide.
LIPID MAPS was started in 2003 at the University of California San Diego, collating more than 40,000 structures and developing a new lipid classification system. Through the involvement of former Institute Director Professor Michael Wakelam the Institute has had a close associated with LIPID MAPS for many years, with Michael, Valerie, Ed and Shankar Subramaniam securing Wellcome Trust funding to support the move of LIPID MAPS to the UK in 2016. Today LIPID MAPS serves around 65,000 lipid researchers worldwide. The Institute remains actively involved in developing the resource. The database is maintained using the technical infrastructure and dedicated web development support at the Babraham Institute and managed and developed jointly with Cardiff University.
“Lipidomics studies the structure and function of the complete set of lipids in a cell or organism as well as their interactions with other cellular components. Without high quality expert curated databases, poor quality data will be generated, leading to significant wastage of time and resources,” said Bill Griffiths from Swansea University, a co-investigator on the grant.
“This funding will enable the development and growth of this exciting new area of scientific research and will enrich our understanding of many areas of biomedical research” added co-investigator Ruth Andrew, University of Edinburgh.
This news article is adapted from a news announcement by the University of Cardiff: MRC invests £1.4M in global lipid research database, 12th September 2023.
Image: Image shows an artistic representation of a cell membrane - a lipid bilayer. Used courtesy of LIPID MAPS.
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