The exquisite functions of naturally occurring proteins solve the challenges faced during evolution. However, we face challenges today that were not faced during natural evolution. The goal of the Institute for Protein Design (IPD) is to develop and apply methods for designing a whole new world of synthetic proteins to address these challenges.
To achieve this goal, the Institute for Protein Design was established in 2012, and is building on strengths within the University of Washington and Seattle more generally. Protein design requires high-level expertise and talent in computing and software, biochemistry, genome sciences, biological structure, pharmacology, immunology and other basic science disciplines, as well as clinical medicine. We are marshaling deep institutional strengths in our faculty, scientific staff, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students, our partners from collaborating institutions, innovator networks, and from the computer and biotechnology industries — bringing extraordinary expertise to bear on a singular focus to advance the potential of protein design.
Over the past 16 years, UW researchers have made significant progress in protein design and protein structure prediction, developing the world leading Rosetta software. Over this period, UW scientists have developed methods for designing proteins with a wide range of new functions, including catalysts for chemical reactions, HIV and RSV vaccine candidates, and flu virus inhibitors. The IPD integrates these strengths in protein design with Seattle-area expertise in biochemistry, engineering, computer science and medicine, and leverages the exceptional Seattle strength in the software industry.
The Institute engages the general public, a source of protein folding insight that has been recognized and harnessed by the online interactive protein folding and design game Foldit and the distributed computing project Rosetta@Home. Many hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are actively contributing to current protein design efforts, solving folding problems that have been outstanding for decades. Indeed, going beyond the traditional “one way” flow of information for scientists and physicians to the general public, these projects enable the general public to contribute to, and in some remarkable recent cases, actually solve, important problems in biomedicine.
In partnership the Washington Research Foundation (WRF) the IPD has initiated a WRF-IPD Innovation Fellows Program to support talented postdoctoral fellows who will learn, improve and apply protein design methods in collaboration with local partner institutes.
In partnership with the Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) the IPD supports the work of Translational Investigators who work to improve the nature of early stage protein designs to improve their chances to impact humankind through applied translational research efforts.
Our work is also supported by the generous giving of philanthropists who share our enthusiasm for the power of protein design.