NIH funds $2.4M/3 year grant to develop technology to understand the function of natural products, botanicals and dietary supplements

June 08, 2018

By , Professor 


Supported by a nearly $2.4M/3 year grant from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, the Center for High Content Functional Annotation (HiFAN) will be established in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UC Santa Cruz (along with collaborators at Simon Fraser University and UT Southwestern Medical Center). The goals of HiFAN are to develop an innovative research paradigm to characterize the mechanisms of action of natural products and botanicals more quickly and precisely. The approach incorporates natural products chemistry, biological screening, data analytics, and bioinformatics, combining two high-throughput platforms to discern in greater detail the impact on cells of both complex chemical mixtures and pure natural compounds. 

John MacMillan, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC Santa Cruz, is the principal investigator for the grant and is a leader in the field of natural products. 

"This program is designed to de

velop new tools to push the frontier of natural products and develop enabling technology that we and others in the fields of natural products and botanical research can use to have a better understanding of the way these molecules work in biological systems”. 

This research program highly leverages the UCSC Chemical Screening Center, Directed by professor Scott Lokey (a co-investigator on the HIFAN program). The two high-throughput discovery platforms take advantage of high-end instrumentation, a High-Content Imaging Microscope and a Nanostring nCounter system, that require the need of the infrastructure provided by the Chemical Screening Center.

 “The long-term goals of the HiFAN program – to develop new methods for probing natural products and their biological effects –dovetail very nicely with the Chemical Screening Center’s historical interest and expertise in natural products chemistry. I think our unique capabilities, especially when it comes to image-based screening techniques, will allow us to make a real contribution to this multi-center effort,” said Scott Lokey.