SGC Podcast

Structural Genomics Consortium

SGC Oxford seeks to solve the structures of human proteins of medical relevance and place them into the public domain without restriction. Using these structures and the reagents generated as part of the structure determination process as well as the chemical probes identified, we work with organisations within Oxford, the UK and the rest of the world to further the understanding of the biological roles of these proteins. We have particular interests in human protein kinases, metabolism-associated proteins, integral membrane proteins and proteins associated with epigenetics.

The Oxford Laboratories

The SGC Oxford laboratories, under the direction of Prof. Chas Bountra, are housed within the University's Old Road Campus located up the hill in Headington, Oxford. SGC Oxford is part of the Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine and scientists at SGC Oxford are affiliated with several University Departments including the Botnar Research Centre at The Institute of Musculoskeletal Sciences and the Department of Oncology.

The Structural Genomics Consortium

Welcome to the Oxford node of the SGC (‘Structural Genomics Consortium’) at the University of Oxford. We are based in the Oxford Campus Research Building and we are part of the Nuffield Department of Medicine. The SGC is a unique international not-for-profit public-private partnership. Our directive is to promote the development of new medicines by carrying out the basic science relevant to drug discovery. We are pioneers in placing all information, reagents and know-how into the public domain without restriction and we agree not to file for patent protection on any of our research outputs. Founded in 2004 and operating from 2 locations (The University of Oxford and the University of Toronto) we are presently supported by several private funders such as GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Novartis, Lilly and Takeda as well as charities and public funders like the Wellcome Trust and Canadian Government agencies.

The core mandate of the SGC is to determine 3D structures of medically relevant proteins on a large-scale and cost-effectively. To date we have solved almost 1,400 structures and we contribute 25% of the novel human protein structures deposited into the protein data-bank each year. The 3D structure of a protein reveals the precise arrangements of its atoms; a blue print of these intricate molecular machines which perform all the vital functions sustaining life. The 3D protein structures help scientists to understand how proteins work and how to find and design small chemical compounds to fit into proteins. This is exactly what most medicines are, highly specific chemical keys modulating protein function. Sometimes small chemical compounds that only fit into specific proteins can be used as tools also called probes to experiment with role and function of the proteins that they target. The SGC combines structural and medicinal chemistry expertise to produce structures, chemical probes and assays. All this output is used by the SGC and its collaborators to successfully explore new classes of proteins with therapeutic potential. The SGC’s commitment to collaborations that are unrestricted by patents is revolutionising the way drug discovery research is conducted. We can quickly engage any scientist across the globe and work together to make key discoveries. For example in just 18 months the JQ1 probe discovered by the SGC was freely distributed to more than 150 laboratories and cited in more than 60 scientific articles. This enabled the association of its novel epigenetics target of inflammation and cancers like myeloma and leukaemia; jump starting new research programmes within industry and enabling one of our collaborators to raise $15 million to start a biotech. This is how innovation can be driven at a global scale in the absence of patents.

The SGC laboratories in Oxford host a multi-talented and multi-cultural team of cross-disciplinary scientists including molecular biologists, biochemists, structural biologists, medicinal chemists, computational biologists, physicists and engineers; all working together to produce innovative knowledge, tools and reagents. Recognising that this is a larger endeavour the SGC actively seeks to engage outside the scientific community by reaching out to patient groups, general public, media and policy makers in an exclusive manner to promote a complete revolution in the way we discover new medicines.