The objective of the research programme was to increase our understanding of how the molecular structures of bio-logical systems are associated with their function. This goal was pursued by stepping up the research effort in structural biology and bioinformatics: interactive research teams and networks representing several different disciplines were set up and to their know-how and methodological expertise strenghtened.
The amount of information generated by biological and biomedical research for this period was set to increase quite dramatically as the genomes of man and a growing number of other living organisms are sequenced. This meant that biocomputing assumed an increasingly important role, opening up through theoretical structural analysis and modelling new avenues to understanding the evolution, structure and function of macromolecules.
The main focus in the programme was on the structure of proteins: this is a universal theme that cuts across all projects. Other areas of study included the study of viruses, carbohydrates, and cell membrane structures and function. Key methods included protein crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and small angle scattering, molecular modelling and computer simulation.
Basic research in structural biology is an important avenue to the determination of new protein structures. Further research based on the information from these determinations are concerned to explore the function of proteins as well as their linkage into larger functional entities in cells. Data on the structure of proteins can also be used in the development of medical drugs and methods of bio-computing.
The programme comprised nine projects, with some 120 researchers involved from the following organisations: the universities of Helsinki, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Oulu, Åbo Akademi University and the Technical Research Centre VTT.
The programme's budget was EUR 4.9 million, with the Academy of Finland accounting for EUR 3.4 million and the National Technology Agency Tekes for EUR 1.5 million of the funding.
The programme was coordinated by Tuomo Glumoff, University of Oulu, Department of Biochemistry.