There is a pervasive view of glycobiology as a niche field that does not warrant significant attention. This is borne out of a profound ignorance. It is not an exaggeration to state that carbohydrates are just as important as proteins, nucleic acids, and lipids. Dismissing the impact of glycans is like stating that proteins are not very important to biology, and their importance is seen in the lethality of many mutations ...more »
See attached document. My comments touch on both 'reducing human disease' and 'developing the workforce'.
There are two areas in which glycobiology has been very successful: technology development and disease correlation. Through efforts exemplified by the CFG, major strides in mass spectroscopy and the creation of novel technologies for probing glycan-protein interactions (e.g. glycan microarrays) have been seen. Likewise, the success of the Programs of Excellence in Glycoscience and those of us focused on disease have also ...more »
Aside from a handful of locations around the country, there are no local opportunities for the vast majority of PhD students to learn about glycobiology. A search on NIH Reporter for T32 grants with "glycobiology” reveals two grants (one NCI for cancer cell biology, one NIGMS for pharmacology). Neither of these grants are focused upon glycobiology. In fact, glycobiology is essentially never integrated into any standard ...more »
A key aspect of making any strategic plan focused upon glycoscience funding effective is the mechanisms by which grants are chosen. The problem is not the IC and making prioritized decisions; the problem is the study section ignorance and bias. Proposals that are reviewed poorly in study section out of flippancy towards glycobiology or simple lack of a critical mass of appropriate expertise never see the light of day ...more »