The Institute for Protein Innovation aims to reignite the field of protein science as a means to realize the promise of genomics to advance biology and promote human health.
The Institute for Protein Innovation is the brainchild of immunologist, biological chemist, structural biologist, and seven-time biomedical entrepreneur Timothy A. Springer, Ph.D., at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital. In 1977 Springer was a postdoc in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate César Milstein, who developed a disruptive protein technology, called monoclonal antibodies. In the decades following, Tim went on to deploy monoclonal antibodies in research and paved the way for them as therapies to treat autoimmune diseases. He started multiple companies based on this research.
Then, in 1990, the Human Genome Project launched.
Over the next two decades the scientific community built extensive infrastructure to support studies of DNA and RNA, which unveiled a wealth of information about the genes that encode all of life. But emerging “genomics” fell short of its promise to uncover the underpinnings of all human biology and the means by which to treat all human disease.
Tim knew firsthand the importance of proteins in linking genes to biological function and disease. Meanwhile, proteins, particularly antibodies, had become the largest and fastest growing class of new drugs. And while Tim saw the new protein technologies as ways to target—on a massive scale—the tens of thousands of proteins revealed by the Human Genome Sequence, investment and expertise in protein science lagged far behind interest in DNA and RNA technologies.
Tapping his entrepreneurial spirit, Tim launched an enterprise designed to elevate protein science to its full potential as the bridge between genomics and its promise of drugs to cure all diseases. He teamed up with co-founder Andrew Kruse, Ph.D., an expert on G protein-coupled receptors and synthetic antibodies at Harvard Medical School. The two consulted with stakeholders from the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and venture capital communities, as well as academic researchers. The result is a free-standing institute in the heart of the Boston Longwood Medical Area near world-class research and medical institutions such as Harvard Medical School and five Harvard-affiliated hospitals, including Boston Children's Hospital. The IPI will serve as a nexus that unites diverse research communities to innovate and invent new protein-based research tools and therapies to cure intractable diseases.
Early on, we recognized that there are no freely-available libraries of well-validated antibodies, despite their central role as enabling tools for every aspect of modern science and drug discovery. We also understood that the cost of making such libraries would be prohibitive to many small laboratories and organizations. Many lack the expertise to create antibody resources in-house.
We will make available, open source, all the sequences of our antibodies and enabling antibody tools. By publicly posting the data, the research community can reproduce the contents of our libraries and also improve on them. This will ensure the highest quality resources for the greatest number of researchers and the highest impact on modern science and medicine.
We are challenging the status quo. As a unique academic–industrial hybrid, the Institute for Protein Innovation can uniquely train the next-generation of protein scientists not only as world-class researchers but also as enterprising entrepreneurs fit either for academic or company ecosystems.
At the heart of our training curriculum and the core of our mission is offering unrivaled experience with cutting-edge protein science techniques. Through its outreach and educational programs, the IPI will help trainees take their newfound expertise and either transition smoothly between academia and industry or engage in entrepreneurship and startup formation.
At IPI, we aim to equip the next generation of scientist-entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and knowledge to ensure success as academics, industrial scientists and entrepreneurs.
Read more about our unique postdoctoral fellowship positions.
Institute for Protein Innovation
Harvard Institutes of Medicine
4 Blackfan Circle - Room 921
Boston, MA 02115