Distributed September 28, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Scott Turner

Infrastructure for genetics research

Five-year, $11-million NIH grant will support Brown genetics research

Brown University has received a five-year, $11-million grant through the National Institutes of Health COBRE program. The NIH grant will support new studies in genetics, ranging from research into cancer and inflammation to an examination of the genetic basis of certain human dementias.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Brown University has received a five-year, $11-million grant from the National Institutes of Health to fund new research facilities and projects in genetics. The grant was awarded under the NIH’s Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence Program (COBRE).

“This grant is going to create a large part of the infrastructure to conduct state-of-the-art large-scale molecular genetics research at Brown and its affiliated hospitals,” said Peter Shank, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the Division of Biology and Medicine.

In particular, the funding will be used to establish several core research facilities, said John Sedivy, principal investigator. This will include refitting laboratories and other research space on campus, especially in the Bio-Med Building, and the purchase of cutting-edge scientific equipment.

These facilities will include a mouse transgenic lab, where mice with specific characteristics will be prepared for scientific research. The transgenic mouse operation will be the first of its kind in Rhode Island. In addition, the funding will allow for the purchase of new equipment such as a conferral microscopy apparatus to analyze living cells precisely.

Money from the grant will also be used to hire technical staff to operate the infrastructure, Sedivy said. The new funding will support five interdisciplinary research projects in several critical areas of genetics, he said. The projects, based on campus or at affiliated hospitals, will range from research into cancer and inflammation to a study of the genetic basis of certain human dementias.

Sedivy hopes some of the COBRE funding will also be used to establish a research core facility in genomics, the discipline of screening tens of thousands of genes at a time for patterns of expression or the presence of genetic polymorphisms.

“This information will be key in defining the underlying causes of many disease states as well as in the mapping of human genes associated with specific diseases or traits,” said Sedivy, whose faculty appointment is in the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry.

Genetics and genomics are scientific fields that are increasingly dependent on costly technology, said Donald J. Marsh, M.D., dean of medicine and biological sciences.

“This grant will provide a great deal of that technology as well as the leadership to conduct interdisciplinary research,” Marsh said. “I am extremely pleased that this effort involves both faculty on campus and from clinical departments (in the hospitals). I think this new effort will lead to many more such interactions.”