Request for Information (RFI): Input on Improvements to the Illuminating the Druggable Genome (IDG) Program’s Digital Resources
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:
May 19, 2020
Response Date:
July 20, 2020

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Issued by

Office of Strategic Coordination (Common Fund)


NIH seeks input from the biomedical research community, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and other members of the public on design and improvements to user functionality of the Illuminating the Druggable Genome (IDG) Program search engine Pharos and program website The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is to identify and obtain comments on strategies and website additions for improving the user experience of visitors to the IDG Program’s websites in order to maximize the usefulness of the IDG’s digital resources.


Out of the nearly 30,000 genes in the human genome, approximately 4,500 genes are estimated to be part of the druggable genome -- the subset of genes expressing proteins with the ability to bind drug-like molecules. Yet, only about ten percent of druggable proteins are targeted by FDA-approved drugs. Many proteins that comprise the druggable genome are members of the G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR), ion channel, and kinase families. A significant number of proteins within these classes are understudied and are the focus of the data and resource generation initiative of the IDG Program.

To improve our scientific understanding of understudied members of these three protein families, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Common Fund launched the Illuminating the Druggable Genome (IDG) Program in 2014. The overall goal of the IDG Program is to catalyze research in areas of biology that are currently understudied but that have high potential to impact human health by (1) identifying biochemical, cellular, or animal model phenotypes for understudied proteins from druggable gene families, (2) enabling further investigation of those proteins by providing reagents and tools, and (3) generating, maintaining, and facilitating the use of a mineable knowledge base.

The IDG Program produces several research resources around understudied proteins, such as reagents, bioinformatic tools, and data. A key informatic resource from this program, Pharos, aggregates—through automated processes—protein information from several sources, giving researchers easy access to in-depth data on ligands, protein-protein interactions, tissue expression, and disease associations, among other aspects. This may help researchers identify new targets of interest. In addition, IDG-funded investigators established scalable technology platforms and streamlined experimental workflows to characterize understudied GPCRs, ion channels, and kinases encoded by the druggable genome. Research tools, reagents, and resources emerging from these efforts are now available via for use by the scientific community. The IDG Program continues to build on the knowledge and tools developed and to generate, aggregate, analyze, and disseminate knowledge around understudied proteins.

Information Requested:

NIH is seeking input from national and international experts and interested members of the public that includes, but is not limited to, the following areas:

  • Overall organization of Pharos and, including design and content of pages.
  • Please comment on what type of user you consider yourself to be, e.g. biomedical researcher, informatician, bioengineer, medicinal chemist etc. and on your motivation for using Pharos (e.g., drug discovery, gene/target research, check on known sex differences, etc.). We are interested in hearing about additional use cases that could be supported or enhanced through Pharos.
  • The IDG program does not fund professional data curators. Please comment on the most effective deployment by the IDG Consortium of limited Pharos human curation capabilities and tools within the context of understudied proteins.
  • Please comment on the prioritization of open source/open access approaches, including datasets, within Pharos that will most effectively relate understudied proteins to disease (or health) processes. Please justify inclusion of particular sources.
  • Suggested improvements to the user experience on Pharos, including:
    • Resources, such as open access datasets, datatypes or other types of knowledge that would be useful for each protein family (understudied GPCR, Kinases or ion channels), such as protein-protein interactions or genetic variants, that are not currently represented.
    • Ease of use in navigating between webpages, amongst Pharos digital resources, and within webpages.
    • Clarity of the resources presented, i.e. required metadata and/or quality control metrics needed.
  • Improvements to the user experience on, with examples where possible, including:
    • Clarity of information contained within the website.
    • Usefulness of Protein Illumination Timelines, including ease of access to resources and clarity of project progress.

Submitting a Response:

All responses must be submitted to by July 20, 2020. Please include the Notice number NOT-RM-20-018 in the subject line. Response to this RFI is voluntary. Responders are free to address any or all of the categories listed above. The submitted information will be reviewed by NIH staff.

This request is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation of any sort on the part of the Federal Government, the NIH, or individual NIH Institutes and Centers. The NIH does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or to otherwise pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the Government's use of such information.

The NIH will use the information submitted in response to this RFI at its discretion and will not provide comments to any responder’s submission. Respondents are advised that the Government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of information or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted. No proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included in your response. The Government reserves the right to use any non-proprietary technical information in any resultant summaries or reports and may use the information gathered to develop further initiatives.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Ajay Pillai
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
Telephone: 301-480-2666

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