- The Center for Molecular Discovery offers researchers access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
The net worth of all this was that Janie became adept at navigating new technology, large collections of data, and a broad customer base—a perfect background for the director of the Biological Division of Yale’s Center for Molecular Discovery. Today Janie manages a team of five scientists who bring their varied skills in research and their experience in the pharmaceutical industry to the projects they work on. As for the Center itself, well, “it’s unique” is a bit of an understatement: While many facilities offer researchers access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology, Janie and her staff are a team of scientists who are willing to help through all stages of a research project . . . from initial design, to implementing the testing, to helping to interpret the results, to suggesting next steps. The process does not end with the development of experimental design, but continues to evolve as the discussion progresses from how to best evaluate the data being generated to how to best leverage the results. The Center also provides support to Yale researchers during their grant submission process, and to date has helped faculty members secure more than $13,600,000 in funding.
“It’s a bit like I imagine sending my children off into the world will be,” Janie laughs. “We help researchers with the part they can’t do, and then the project moves on without us.” All joking aside, Janie, her colleagues, and the Center provide incredibly valuable services—such as sterile liquid handling and robotic testing; this allows for larger scale experiments than are possible in most academic research labs, and a reduction in contamination and human error, leading to high reproducibility and results. In the world of science, these are worth more than gold.
- Janie and her team control libraries of tens of thousands of chemicals, siRNAs, and natural products–an impressive body of knowledge (BoK).
The Center can also provide researchers with access to a wide variety of different types of screening options—from analysis on the level of molecules to more complex cell-—and organism—based assays, using techniques such as Small Interfering RNA (siRNA), sometimes referred to as ‘silencing RNA’ for its ability to turn specific genes on and off. There’s also a division that specializes in medicinal, computational, and synthetic chemistry, with experience applying their methods to multiple areas such as oncology, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders.
If it sounds impressive, that’s because it is . . . and there’s more: In addition to assistance with managing technology and designing experiments, it wouldn’t be a stretch for Janie to add “science librarian” to her title; she and her crew offer researchers access to libraries that contain collections of tens of thousands of chemicals, siRNAs, and natural products. Just as a traditional library can hold thousands of books on many different subjects, genomics or chemical libraries contain copies of thousands of different genes or compounds—it’s quite a body of knowledge (BoK). By screening against this many genes or chemicals simultaneously, a researcher might identify several that are worth exploring further. There are several libraries available; some contain chemicals originally discovered by pharmaceutical companies, including known drugs that have been shown many times over to be useful for multiple diseases, and some are collections of chemical compounds made by Yale researchers. Others may contain arrays of natural products that were isolated from various rainforest organisms by Yale undergraduates—undergraduates who spent their spring break in the Amazon.