Wellcome Trust Picks Up Support of NIH-developed LIPID MAPS Website/Database

an Diego, Calif., July 19, 2016 -- Our understanding of the role of lipids in the development of diseases such as heart disease and dementia is about to get a boost as a UK-led consortium receives a £1.3 million grant to host the world’s largest curated lipid database and associated resources.

The new grant, awarded by the Wellcome Trust, will allow Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute, the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, and the University of California San Diego to continue the important work of identifying and analyzing lipids – the molecules our bodies use to regulate normal processes such as blood clotting, fighting infection and development. The LIPID MAPS project will continue as an online resource initiated in 2003 through a series of grants from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). It has compiled a database of more than 40,000 structures, and developed a new lipid classification system now used by lipid researchers worldwide.

“The LIPID MAPS data and infrastructure is one of the pioneering resources available to the metabolomics community. NIH continued to support this resource after the completion of the LIPID MAPS project to ensure wide use by the community. Recognizing the importance of this resource, the Wellcome Trust has decided to support it for the next five years,” said Shankar Subramaniam, distinguished professor of bioengineering, computer science & engineering and cellular & molecular medicine at UC San Diego, and associate director of the university's Institute of Engineering in Medicine. Subramaniam is a principal investigator along with Dr. Eoin Fahy of the NIH resource grant, an extension to the original glue grant. 

"The LIPID MAPS Consortium was founded in 2003 to develop the field of lipidomics and received over $73M in funding from the NIH over ten years resulting in over 400 publications and a website and database that the worldwide lipid scientific community depends on daily; we are pleased that the Wellcome Trust, despite the present challenges for the UK, recognized the great importance of this international resource and has committed to its essential support for the next five years," said Edward Dennis, professor of chemistry, biochemistry, and pharmacology at UC San Diego and founder and director of the LIPID MAPS Initiative.

"There is a huge amount we still don’t know relating to how many unique lipids our cells contain and how these change during development and disease,” said Valerie O'Donnell, professor at Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute and the lead applicant on the grant. “To further our understanding it’s essential that we have collaborative open access resources such as LIPID MAPS.”

"This essential resource will help us to find families of lipids that have never been seen before and discover new lipids that are involved in disease processes,” said Professor Michael Wakelam, Director of the Babraham Institute, Cambridge and co-applicant on the grant. “The Wellcome Trust grant will be transformational in allowing essential development work for the site so that it can best serve the academic lipid community worldwide.”

In addition to allowing researchers to further develop the work of LIPID MAPS, the £1.3 million grant will also see the resource moved to the UK and its internationally recognized classification system preserved. This premier website, which was used by 77,000 users in the last year alone, from virtually all countries, will provide essential support for UK and worldwide lipid analytical centers and help advance the fast developing field of lipidomics.

From July 2017 on, the resource will be housed jointly between Cardiff University and the Babraham Institute, and will be co-managed by the three participating organizations.

The LIPID MAPS Lipidomics Gateway website is at http://www.lipidmaps.org