Intramural Research Program (IRP) scientists are encouraged to produce innovative basic, translational and clinical research—a research paradigm often termed “bench-to-bedside.” Basic science aims to understand the genetic and cellular basis of a disease or diseases. Clinical science aims to apply therapies to those diseases. Translational science, perhaps the most complex in many ways, aims to discover, develop, and validate therapies—and molecular pharmacology is central to that challenge. At its most basic, molecular pharmacology is the study of molecular actions and interactions of a drug or therapy, but the science behind this discipline is enormously diverse, involving molecular biologists, biochemists, chemists, pharmacologists, toxicologists, statisticians, and experts in bioinformatics.
Many Institutes and Centers in the IRP support research programs that discover, design, develop, and test novel compounds for use as candidate therapeutics, including:
- The newly created National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) Program
- The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Psychoactive Drug Screening Program
- The National Cancer Institute (NCI) Center for Cancer Research (CCR) Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology
IRP researchers have access to world-class tools to support this science, such as:
- The NCI-60, a panel of 60 diverse human cancer cell lines used by the NCI’s Developmental Therapeutics Program to screen more than 100,000 compounds and natural products since 1990.
- The Synthetic Products Repository, a set of more than 500,000 proprietary and nonproprietary compounds which have been submitted to the program.
- The Natural Products Repository, the world’s largest storehouse of natural products, contains 170,000 extracts from more than 70,000 plants and 10,000 marine organisms.
Taken together, our scientists have the molecular pharmacological tools, infrastructure, and determination to help bridge the ever-widening gap between the bench and the bedside.