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Program Snapshot

The Common Fund’s Molecular Libraries and Imaging program offered biomedical researchers access to the large-scale screening capacity necessary to identify small molecules that could be optimized as chemical probes to study the functions of genes, cells, and biochemical pathways in health and disease. They are also used by researchers in the public and private sectors to validate new drug targets, which could then move into the drug-development pipeline. 

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A perspective in Cell describes how small-molecule probes identified through the Molecular Libraries and Imaging Program are leading to advances in understanding biological pathways and the ability to test emerging therapeutic hypotheses.  

New BioAssay Research Database launches

BARD is powerful new bioassay database from the NIH Molecular Libraries Program. This newly launched database allows researchers to develop and test hypotheses on the influence of different chemical probes on biological functions. BARD’s constantly growing database currently includes more than 35 million compounds, 4 thousand assays, and over 300 projects.

Access the BARD database

Learn more about BARD 

Related Funding Initiatives

Please see new funding opportunities related to, but separate from, this Common Fund program!

  • PAR-13-364 Development of Assays for High-Throughput Screening for Use in Probe and Pre-therapeutic Discovery (R01)
  • PAR-13-134 High Throughput Screening (HTS) to Discover Chemical Probes (X01)
  • PAR-13-135 High Throughput Screening (HTS) to Discover Chemical Probes (R03)
  • PAR-14-279 Discovery of in vivo Chemical Probes (R01)
  • PAR-14-283 High Throughput Screening (HTS) to Discover Chemical Probes (R21)
  • PAR-14-284 High Throughput Screening (HTS) to Discover Chemical Probes (R01)

Program Highlights

Molecular Libraries Discovery Leads to Phase 1 Clinical TrialMolecular Libraries Discovery Leads to Phase 1 Clinical Trial for Multiple Myeloma
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Molecular Library probe to be further developed into a therapeutic Molecular Library probe to be further developed into a therapeutic
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Study Using NIH Clinical Collection Leads to Discovery of a Possible Lithium Replacement for Bipolar Disorder TreatmentStudy Using NIH Clinical Collection Leads to Discovery of a Possible Lithium Replacement for Bipolar Disorder Treatment
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This page was last updated summer 2015.

Molecular Libraries Program banner
The Molecular Libraries and Imaging (MLI) Program has transitioned from the Common Fund. As one of the original NIH Roadmap programs, the main goal of MLI was to empower the research community to use small molecular compounds (probes) in research, either as tools that would interfere with genes and pathways to study their function, or as starting points to the development of new therapeutics for human disease. 

The original mission of the MLI program was to provide high-throughput screening and resources to the scientific community to develop probes to study the function of genes, cells and biochemical pathways. Today, compounds resulting from MLI probes are in clinical trials with the possibility of going all the way to market. The results of this program provide a clear example of how basic fundamental biology can translate into improving human health.

The MLI program has changed the field of small molecule research and drug discovery. The well integrated set of initiatives in the MLI program transformed and streamlined the use of probes in research by enabling the broader academic research community to develop and use them as powerful new research tools for basic research biology and drug development.

The MLI produced many research resources that are currently being utilized by the scientific community including:

Accomplishments of the MLI program

MLI accomplishment metric


Over 2,300

Number of Compounds in Small Molecule Repository


Number of accepted probes


Number of compounds deposited to PubChem by MLI


Number of PubChem users

200,000/ day

Number of users of BARD

12,940 unique users


188,254 page views


143 active user accounts

Number of Bioassays in BARD


MLI was supported by the Common Fund from Fiscal Year 2004 to Fiscal Year 2013.  Some of the resources developed by the program are now supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), the National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

From Bench to Bedside: Therapeutic Candidate Targeting S1P1 Advances in Clinical Trials for Multiple Sclerosis

From Bench to BedsideReceptos, Inc. announced in December, 2013 that they have completed an analysis of the Phase 2 portion of its Phase 2/3 trial of RPC1063 in relapsing multiple sclerosis (RMS). A compound initially discovered by the NIH Molecular Libraries Probe Production Center at The Scripps Research Institute, which is part of the NIH Common Fund Molecular Libraries Program, was used as a precursor in the development of RCPT1063 by Receptos Inc.

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