We are looking for synthetic chemists to participate in this initiative. Chemical probes are key tools to help discover biology, and the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), and its industry and academic partners, aim to make chemical probes for most human proteins. We have far more exciting protein targets than we have available chemistry, which is why the SGC is offering biology and biochemistry expertise to the global chemistry community to access your insight and expertise.
In this partnership, the participants (you!) will synthesize new bioactive small molecules and the SGC will characterize what they do. Together we will discover new biology and new disease mechanisms. The Open Chemistry Networks (OCN) will be open and patent-free. Think distributed chemistry on a planetary scale and for the public good. Join us! Join OCN today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
This is an SGC initiative, and all SGC sites are contributing biochemistry and cell biology. There are synthetic chemistry contributors throughout the SGC, and the Head of Open Chemistry Networks is Professor Mat Todd at University College London.
The projects would be owned collectively and would include the original contributors, the biologists, the most active synthetic chemists, and the industry mentors. And the outputs of the projects – the chemistry and data – are dedicated to the public domain, which means that nobody and everybody owns them: they are a common resource for use by the research community.
Probes are tools to discover biology. If the biology is interesting, and there is an interest in drug discovery, then the project would inevitably require additional (inventive) chemistry to optimize the pharmacology of the molecule. This would occur outside the OCN project and only after the chemical probe is identified. There would be no restriction on patenting any subsequent work, but it is also important to appreciate that patents are not needed to incentivize drug discovery and development – many “first-in-class” compounds have been brought to market without patent protection.
A probe is not a drug, but it could be an excellent starting point for a drug. A probe is a highly potent and selective inhibitor of a protein target that is also proven to interact with the protein target in a cell. A drug may be similar in what it achieves, but also must be optimized for drug-like parameters. A chemical probe is often more selective than is a drug.
Yes, and that is essential. There are lots of examples of great papers based on research that has been carried out in the public domain. In addition, OCN will use preprints to share evolving drafts of papers, and contributors will become co-authors as the science advances.
Absolutely. For this initiative to scale to hundreds of probes, the SGC is keen to work with you on applications for funding for the synthetic chemistry. The biology that will be performed by the SGC will be a major in-kind contribution to such proposals.
Yes. OCN would love to work with you to show the usefulness of new chemistry through the synthesis of structures needed for understanding new biology. Also, if you read a new chemistry paper describing some methodology that could be used to make one of the structures, contact OCN so we can connect the chemistry and biology teams.
Of course, we can always buy molecules designed by us. However, this is limiting. The power of the OCN initiative is to create a collaborative team that can not only invent new openly available chemical probes but work together to solve fundamental biology problems. Moreover, by crowdsourcing synthesis, we will also help to train early career researchers. Complex synthesis projects can be great targets for collaborative PhD projects.
Synthetic chemists, from anywhere in the world and people who can make molecules. This could be postdocs and PhD students who are excited to contribute to the discovery of new biology. The network will be quite diverse - perhaps you’re a Masters student looking for an interesting synthesis project? Maybe you’re a university or teacher looking for a synthesis project to give your new lab class, so that your students can make samples that will be used in current biomedical research? Maybe you work in the pharmaceutical sector or a Contract Research Organization and would like to contribute resources pro bono? All these groups are crucial, and all are very welcome. Open science projects are inclusive.
Each science project will have its own team alongside regular monthly online meetings that will be open to anyone who wishes to join OCN. Questions about the initiative can be emailed to Mat Todd at email@example.com.
The benefit of joining OCN is to advance science and to secure research papers and research grants. Contributors will be part of an expert team that includes scientists at the SGC, specializing in the probe’s biological area. The team will also include a mentor from the pharmaceutical industry. You’ll receive data on your compounds quickly, allowing the team to co-publish the research.
Yes. We need brainpower to ensure we are making the most useful molecules in a particular project. We also need OCN Student Project Champions to help manage projects, identify new contributors, and help develop software platforms. Each project will be different and will have different non-lab needs.
Student champions are vital to the success of OCN and are essential to building momentum for the project, acting as supporters and advocates, expanding the OCN community. Visit the Sir James Murray OCN Champions Program webpage for more information on this key role.
There are no restrictions on what contributors choose to focus on. If another contributor starts working on something similar you will be made aware because everything is in the public domain. This allows contributors to work together, dividing tasks when that’s productive, or working towards similar goals if that accelerates progress. We would always want to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort.