Wednesday, August 29, 2007

$1.8M grant to aid studies of mechanisms of fever and hypothermia in systemic inflammation

[Source: Kimberly Lodge, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center] - St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center researcher Andrej Romanovsky, M.D., Ph.D., has been awarded a $1.8 million, five-year grant by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Dr. Romanovsky was awarded the grant to continue his studies of the mechanisms of fever and hypothermia in systemic inflammation. Systemic inflammation, including sepsis and trauma disease, is the complex biological response of the body to harmful stimuli. It is accompanied by either fever (in mild cases) or hypothermia (in severe cases). The direction of the body temperature response may determine the difference between life and death for a patient with certain injuries and infections.

In an attempt to understand how and why systemic inflammation causes fever in some cases and hypothermia in others, Dr. Romanovsky hopes to identify the mechanisms involved and possibly gain insight into the therapeutic use of some anti-inflammatory drugs. Dr. Romanovsky's grant proposal received an unusually high score upon its first submission, reflecting the great level of enthusiasm by the National Institutes of Health for his proposal. This is the fourth major grant that he has been awarded since joining St. Joseph's in 2000. Dr. Romanovsky is a member of St. Joseph's Trauma Center, the only Level I Trauma Center in Arizona that's certified by the American Colleges of Surgeons (ASC). As part of ASC certification, St. Joseph's must conduct ongoing trauma research and education.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

ASU names new chief of Biomedical Informatics

[Source: Ed Taylor, East Valley Tribune] - Arizona State University has recruited a renowned expert in the field of medical information technology to head its Department of Biomedical Informatics.Dr. Robert Greenes, who has almost four decades of experience at Harvard University, will hold the Ira A. Fulton Chair in the new department, which is part of the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering. Greenes, 67, will become the department chairman on Sept. 1. He is leaving posts as professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School and Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Informatics at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He also has been a professor of health policy and management at the Harvard School of Public Health; professor in the Health Science and Technology Division, a joint division of Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and program director of the Boston Biomedical Informatics Training Program.

Greenes said he was leaving his prominent position in the Harvard medical community because of the “substantial planning efforts and resources” being devoted to building ASU’s biomedical informatics program. “I’m impressed by the eagerness at all levels of the university, especially its leadership, and among its partners, the University of Arizona, and other Arizona health and biomedical science institutions, to create a top-notch biomedical informatics program,” Greenes said in a statement. Biomedical informatics is a science that collects data, statistics and other information that can be used by physicians, researchers and others in the medical field to improve health care. The fast-emerging field integrates information technology, computer science, engineering, biology, mathematics and health sciences to improve medical training, research, diagnosis and treatment. The new department will be co-located at ASU’s main campus in Tempe and at the Arizona Biomedical Collaborative in downtown Phoenix, a joint venture of ASU and the University of Arizona College of Medicine.

“Having someone of Dr. Greenes’ caliber will help ASU quickly move to the leading edge of biomedical informatics,” ASU President Michael Crow said in a statement. “He will offer strong direction for the department to provide its students an outstanding education and also to contribute to improving health care in Arizona,” the statement said. Greenes is “without question among the world leaders in the use of collaborative medical informatics research to benefit patients, physicians and students,” said Dr. Jeffrey Trent, president of the Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Arizona Cancer Center director hopes presidential forum will raise research awareness

To ensure that cancer-related issues are included in each candidate’s platform during the upcoming Presidential election year, the Lance Armstrong Foundation will host the LIVESTRONG Presidential Cancer Forum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Aug. 27-28. The questions to be asked of the candidates address cancer research funding, access, prevention, early detection, survivorship and innovation. “Just like they would discuss war, or terror, or taxes, why wouldn’t they talk about the number one killer in this country?” says Armstrong. “I’m proud of the important scientific discoveries we’ve made over the years, which have contributed to the national progress against the more than 200 types of cancer,” says Arizona Cancer Center Director David S. Alberts, M.D. “My hope is that we’ll have the resources we need to continue our work.”

As the state’s premier National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, the Arizona Cancer Center celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. When the war on cancer began in 1971, a diagnosis of cancer was the equivalent of a death sentence. Thanks to cancer research, approximately 65 percent of all cancer patients can expect to survive, and 10 million cancer survivors are living in the U.S. today. However, more than 1.44 million Americans will still be diagnosed with cancer this year, and almost 560,000 will die from the disease. That’s the equivalent of three 747s full of 500 people crashing every day. In addition to the lives lost to cancer, the economic cost is staggering. Every year, cancer costs our nation more than $210 billion, but only about $5 billion in federal funds is spent on cancer research. The majority of funding for research at academic medical centers, including the Arizona Cancer Center, comes from competitive grants administered by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). During the past four years, this funding has not even kept pace with inflation, and a cut in the NIH budget has been proposed for FY 2008.

As well as conducting innovative research, our nation’s cancer centers are responsible for educating the next generation of cancer specialists. Cutbacks in federal funding have hurt young scientists, and many are leaving the cancer field because they have only a 1 in 10 chance of getting their research projects funded. The forum for Democratic candidates will be on August 27, and the forum for Republicans will be on August 28. Both two-hour discussions will begin at 8 a.m. and will be co-moderated by Lance Armstrong and Chris Matthews of MSNBC. The forum can be viewed via streaming video on the MSNBC website at the time of the live broadcast. Portions of the discussions also will be featured on the August 27 & 28 broadcasts of Hardball. For more information and to sign up to view these events, visit the LIVESTRONG website at

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New appointment at Maricopa Intergrated Health System

Dr. Jeffrey Joyce announced the appointment of Janeth Mattox, M.P.A as Manager for Academic Research with the Department of Research at Maricopa Integrated Health System. The appointment is effective as of August 20, 2007. Ms. Mattox has over 15 years’ experience in research administration, including being Chief Operating Officer at Sun Health Research Institute, at the University of Rochester, the University of New Mexico and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. She will manage research grants funded by non-profit sponsors such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), voluntary organizations (e.g., the American Cancer Society), and other non-profit research contracts and grants. Ms. Mattox will also be responsible for assuring that programs and procedures are in place for the training and support of residents and faculty researchers, and will oversee the IRB Office. She will continue our efforts to support research education to all our strategic partners.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

UA student and cancer survivor ‘walks the talk’ to raise funds

[Source: Donna Breckenridge, AzCC] - On Nov. 10, 2007, Todd Lane will once again join his fellow Greek community members at the CATwalk, a public philanthropic event created by the University of Arizona Greek community to raise money for the Bobbi Olson Fund for women’s cancer research at the Arizona Cancer Center. However, this year Lane’s participation in CATwalk goes beyond his Greek affiliation.

In Dec. 2006, Lane’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time and was informed that it had spread to her liver and bones. Three months later, Lane found himself at the office of his mother’s oncologist receiving the news that he had testicular cancer. Lane underwent surgery on his 19th birthday and began his chemotherapy regimen one week later. For three months, he received chemotherapy Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in his hometown near Boston, Massachusetts. After his Friday treatment, his father drove him to the airport to fly back to Tucson, where Lane attended classes for the two weeks in between chemo cycles. “I didn’t want to stop going to class and lose a semester’s worth of work,” says Lane. “I never missed class when I was in Tucson, but I did have to take a lot of naps.” In May 2007, Lane finished the semester with a 3.8 grade point average, an impressive achievement for any college freshman. One month later, he achieved something even more impressive - he completed his chemotherapy treatment and was cancer-free. “My number one priority now is raising awareness,” explains Lane. “I want people to realize that cancer can happen to anyone, even a 19-year-old college freshman.”

For this year’s CATwalk, Lane’s goal is to get all 70 members of his fraternity Phi Kappa Psi to participate. For the first time, the CATwalk will offer a 10k run in addition to the 5k walk. Also new this year is the involvement of the Arizona Cancer Center’s Better Than Ever (BTE) Program. Since its inception in Sept. 2000, BTE has encouraged more than 2,300 people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels to become more fit while raising awareness and more than $1.3 million for the Arizona Cancer Center.

Starting Sept. 4, 2007, BTE will provide participants with training for the CATwalk 10k, including weekly sessions led by volunteer coaches, training packets, educational lectures and numerous social events with fellow BTE participants. In return for the training program and coaching, program participants are asked to pay a $250 registration fee ($225 is tax deductible) or pledge to fundraise $250 through donations.

You are invited to attend the Better Than Ever Training Program Kick Off for the first CATwalk 10k:·

  • Wednesday, August 29, 2007
  • 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Arizona Cancer Center, Kiewit Auditorium (1515 N. Campbell Ave.)

Even if you don’t join the BTE training program, you can still help the Arizona Cancer Center by participating in the CATwalk on Nov. 10. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Bobbi Olson Fund at the Arizona Cancer Center. “CATwalk may seem like a small event, but it can have a big effect for a lot of people,” says Lane. “An hour of your time can make a big difference for someone else.”Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Lute Olson has also invited the Tucson Community to join him and his Wildcats as they walk for this worthy cause. He says “supporting CATwalk is a great way to give back to the UA and Tucson community while showing solidarity in helping to fight for a cure for all women’s cancers!”

For more information, please call (520) 626-7177.

UA plant scientist and HTG receive $2.17 million SFAz SRG grant

[Source: Deborah Daun, Bio5] – A collaboration between University of Arizona (UA) Plant Sciences Professor and BIO5 member David Galbraith, PhD, and High Throughput Genomics (HTG), a Tucson-based company providing gene expression assay technology and services for the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry, was awarded a two-year $2,171,550 Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) Strategic Research Group (SRG) grant. SRG grants seed partnerships between researchers from the research-performing institutions and industry in strategic areas. Each SRG proposal defines how investigators manage and/or exploit intellectual property to the advantage of Arizona. SFAz will provide $1 million for the first year of the grant, and based on the achievements of specific milestones, an additional $1 million for the second year. The $171,550 is designated for a UA institutional allowance.

The HTG/Galbraith-BIO5 collaboration—Chemical Genomics and Translational Research Center (CGTR)—also is receiving in-kind funding from HTG and the UA/BIO5, potentially bringing the funding total to $6 million over two years. “I am delighted to have the opportunity to build this unique public-private sector partnership. Establishment of the CGTR should lead to important advances that could result in considerable economic benefits to the Tucson area and to the state of Arizona,” said Dr. Galbraith.

The CGTR—led jointly by Dr. Galbraith and HTG Chief Scientific Officer Bruce Seligmann, PhD—will be based in BIO5’s new Thomas W. Keating Bioresearch Building on The University of Arizona campus. The center will expand and develop HTG's quantitative Nuclease Protection Assay (qNPA™) platform into a high density microarray to improve the quality and speed of biomarker and target identification, validation and subsequent screening and optimization of agricultural and pharmaceutical compounds. This advanced technology helps scientists identify changes in normal gene expression, such as abnormalities caused by disease as well as beneficial and adverse changes in gene activity caused by drugs. “The utilization of qNPA™ as the assay to quantitatively and precisely measure gene expression by high-density arrays from any type of sample, including fixed tissues, will bring a new level of enabling performance to this platform,” says Dr. Seligmann.

The qNPA™ platform will be validated and applied to a diverse set of BIO5 projects conducted by UA faculty. One project focuses on identifying agricultural chemicals that will reduce the cost of producing ethanol for biofuels. Other projects will adapt and apply the qNPA platform to identify molecular changes that occur when cells become cancerous. Subsequently, this information will provide critical insights to allow new cancer drugs to be designed and rapidly tested, and new prognostic assays to accurately predict personal response to drug therapies.

HTG will commercialize identified biomarkers and high density array products developed by the CGTR for the qNPA™ platform and the UA will commercialize biomarkers and new technologies for other than the qNPA™ platform. "The CGTR exemplifies the role BIO5 plays in engaging the strengths of the academic and industrial communities by applying cutting-edge technology to tackle real world problems in agriculture and medicine," says BIO5 Director Vicki Chandler, PhD.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Collaboration looks to produce hothouse tomatoes so good they could become the ultimate cure-all

[Source: Philip S. Moore, Inside Tucson Business] - “Eat your fruits and vegetables, they’re good for you.” That admonition virtually everyone heard growing up, is taking a turn in the biotech world. Sonora Transplants, in collaboration with researchers, is embarking on a plan that could lead to commercially producing genetically engineered plants for the pharmaceutical industry and even make tomato-based vaccines that can be taken orally and produce an immune response against certain diseases.

The vaccine idea has been tested on chickens against Exotic Newcastle’s Disease where research has shown the tomato-based product can be freeze-dried, powdered, then put into a capsule. “They work,” says Guy Cardineau, research professor at the Biodesign Institute, which is sponsored by Arizona State University’s Center for Infectious Disease and Vaccinology.

Plants can be prolific producers of a variety of engineered oils, fibers and proteins all at the same time. And ASU’s research has found that the plant oils and proteins don’t need to be refined. “That’s why we’ve been trying to get pharmaceutical companies interested,” Cardineau said. “If we can simply harness that protein production capacity in plants to focus on proteins of interest to them, we can reduce their costs.”But all of that is three years or more away.

First, the plan is to develop a specialized hybrid tomato plant for the hothouse industry in Southern Arizona and Sonora. Working on that is a collaboration of Sonora Transplants, the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) and ASU’s Biodesign Institute.Chieri Kubota, plant biologist and physiology professor for CEAC, has perfected a technique for growing up to 180 pounds of premium quality tomatoes in a one-square meter. Now, she’s helping Sonora Transplants to adapt that technique.From there, work will be done to expand on the graft platform strategy for tomatoes to further develop genetically engineered plants. The work is being financed with a grant of $50,000 from the Science Foundation of Arizona and matching money from UA.

Kubota is a former researcher in Japan, where engineered plant production is more common. This project will be multi-phased. First is establishing that transplant production is feasible. Raising plants for pharmaceutical use is a long-term goal but, she said, that should happen.Sonora Transplants CEO Ron Richman says his company is finalizing its financing, which he hopes will be finished by the end of August.“By December, we expect to have facilities and equipment in place, and be ready to begin production by the first of the year,” Richman said.As that continues, he says, the company will not only gain experience, it will provide the cash flow that will allow it to move into drought and disease resistant plants.

If the timeline holds, in three years Richman said, “We’ll be ready with a platform for producing things that the pharmaceutical industry would want.”Tucson is “at the nexus” of biotechnology, agricultural science and pharmaceutical development, he said.“There’s a skill set here that’s unique,” Richman said. “Ultimately, we could be talking about dozens of companies, and hundreds of people working in the industry.”

Sonora Transplants’ Richman has over 30 years’ experience in business development and marketing with IBM. He is working with Robert Schatz, who has been involved in global securities research and sales for 18 years, including time as an analyst for Nomura Research Institute in Tokyo. Both are also officers in Innovative Technologies Development Center, formerly known as the International Trade Development Center. Richman is the chief operating officer and Schatz is the chief finance officer. Among the finance options they’re pursuing is a possible grant from the National Science Foundation.

Cardineau says the partnership among ASU’s Biodesign, the UA’s CEAC and Sonora Transplants is “allowing us to explore our collaborative potential to create a model system to demonstrate that we really can do this.”Once that’s proven, he said “everyone seems to think we have a wonderful opportunity to build on the technology we already have in the state to develop a new business entity and I’m inclined to agree. If we can do this and do it on an economically feasible basis, there’s no real limit to what can be done.”

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

NAU researchers develop new device for finding bacteria

[Source: Northern Arizona University] - Infection-causing bacteria can't hide from researchers at Northern Arizona University, who recently helped develop the first diagnostic tool to detect them. A patent is pending for the new Lateral Flow Assay device to detect the microorganisms bound together in a protective wall, known as biofilms, which attach to inanimate substances, such as rocks in streams or catheters in humans, or to living tissue such as human heart valves and bone. Certain bacteria produce biofilms, which act as a defense against drugs and the immune system, making it difficult to treat an infection. Biofilms cause more than 70% of community and hospital-acquired infections, such as staph infections, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The cost associated with treating these infections in the U.S. is about $5 billion a year, said Jeff Leid, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and associate director for NAU's Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics. "Biofilms are an important problem with implanted medical devices as well as in the establishment of chronic infections," Leid said. "They are notoriously less susceptible to antibiotics than their single-cell, non-community orientated bacteria and are less susceptible to attack and killing from the human immune system."

Leid explained that because of this, patients often suffer chronic and recurring infections. "Without a specific way for physicians and health-care workers to diagnose these infections, patient treatment may be delayed," he explained. Developed by a team of faculty and students from NAU and the University of Maryland, the Lateral Flow Assay works in similar ways to the test used to diagnose strep throat. The device identifies the presence of biofilm-specific antibodies in patients by allowing the antibodies to bind to biofilm-specific proteins on the device.

"If physicians and other health-care workers can diagnose these infections early, there will be a much greater chance for clinical treatments to work and for patient health to improve dramatically," Leid explained. Leid invented the device in collaboration with Tim Vail, an associate professor of Biochemistry at NAU, Jennifer Kofonow, an NAU biology graduate student, Mark Shirtliff, an assistant professor in biomedical sciences at the University of Maryland, and Rebecca Brady, a biomedical sciences graduate student at the University of Maryland. In March, the group presented the diagnostic assay at the international Biofilms 2007 meeting in Canada. "When we showed the slide documenting the assay's utility in detecting a biofilm infection from the serum of an infected animal, the crowd of more than 500 scientists went silent in awe. It was amazing," Leid said. Dr. Steve Fry at Airpark Medical Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., is hoping the Lateral Flow Assay will help him diagnose his patients' medical problems faster. "This new device will allow doctors to test drugs and materials simultaneously and will save time and money," Fry said. The researchers are working to fine-tune the treatment protocols for using the new device. "The next move is trying to find a company that is interested in licensing the technology so that it can be developed and sold as a clinical product," Leid said.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

NIH awards UA nearly $1M for mass spectrometer

[Source: Deborah Daun, BIO5] - The National Institutes of Health awarded a $924,995 High-End Instrumentation (HEI) grant to The University of Arizona for a mass spectrometer that will assist a wide range of UA scientists, from those working on the prevention and cures for diseases such as colorectal cancer and Valley Fever to those researching the atmospheric chemistry on Titan, the largest moon on Saturn.

“This new Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometer gives the highest mass accuracy available and thus adds tremendous capacity to our mass spectrometry resources at the UA,” says Vicki Wysocki, PhD, BIO5 member and professor, UA Chemistry Department. Dr. Wysocki is the lead investigator on the HEI grant. The new instrument will be located in the UA Department of Chemistry and will be available to researchers through UA’s Chemistry Mass Spectrometry Facility and UA’s Arizona Proteomics Consortium, which is located in the new BIO5 building on the UA campus.

A mass spectrometer measures the masses of individual molecules that have been converted to ions (i.e. have been electrically charged). Mass spectrometry is a powerful analytical technique used to identify unknown compounds, quantify known materials, and elucidate the structure and chemical properties of molecules.

The UA is one of only 14 national recipients of HEI grants for cutting-edge equipment required to advance biomedical research. The grants come from The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of the NIH. Awarded to research institutions around the country, these one-time HEI grants support the purchase of sophisticated instruments costing more than $750,000.

“These high-performance advanced technologies enable both basic discoveries that shed light on the underlying causes of disease and the development of novel therapies to treat them,” said Dr. Barbara Alving, director, NCRR. “The value of this investment in advanced equipment is greatly leveraged because each of these rare tools is used by a number of investigators, advancing a broad range of research projects.”

TGen awarded $1M from W.M. Keck Foundation

[Source: TGen] - The Translational Genomics Research Institute has announced the award of a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to fund a project designed to shed light on the regulation of cellular processes at a genomic level. The project is a joint endeavor between researchers at TGen and Texas A&M University. The project is based on an emerging field called systems biology that combines engineering, mathematics and biology to further our understanding of the underlying signal processing that takes place within cells.

TGen's infrastructure is already in place to carry out these types of detailed systems biology experiments. Dr. Michael Bittner, Co-Director and Senior Investigator of TGen's Computational Biology Division, will lead the project. "This project allows us to further our knowledge of cellular 'control systems' and to build new technologies that measure and analyze the processes going on both inside the cell and between cells," said Dr. Bittner. "In this way, we will develop biological versions of the methods engineers use to study man-made systems, such as telecommunications and computing systems."

Dr. Bittner will collaborate with Dr. Edward Dougherty, Co-Director and Adjunct Senior Investigator of TGen's Computational Biology Division and Professor at the Department of Electrical Engineering at Texas A&M University. The W.M. Keck Foundation, one of the nation's largest philanthropic organizations, supports pioneering discoveries in science, engineering and medical research. "This gift from the W. M. Keck Foundation represents far more to TGen than the funding of an important research opportunity," said Michael Bassoff, President of the TGen Foundation. "It is recognition by the W. M. Keck Foundation of the leading edge science that is conducted by TGen and its collaborators, and the critical impact we will make on the future of medical treatments for patients with life threatening diseases."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Study reveals genetic clues about Lou Gehrig's Disease

[Source: TGen] -- A comprehensive scan of the human genome by researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) has identified more than 50 genetic abnormalities in people with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease), according to a study published in today’s online issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The identified differences implicate genes that are likely to play a role in nerve function, offering a new avenue for ALS therapy development.

ALS is a progressive neurological disorder that leads to paralysis and death in three to five years. It has baffled researchers for nearly 140 years. After screening DNA samples from over 1,250 people with and over 2,000 people without sporadic ALS, TGen researchers identified genes that are involved in maintaining motor neuron connections at the nerve-muscle junction, and allowing normal voluntary movement.

Dr. Dietrich Stephan, Director of TGen’s Neurogenomics Division and the study's principle investigator, has validated the study’s results by analyzing all of the available data in the public domain. Additionally, Dr. Stephan and his research team have refined the biological mechanism that predisposes individuals to ALS in order to move genetic discoveries more quickly to the clinic. "ALS is a horrific disorder that very quickly leads to complete paralysis," said Dr. Stephan. "This is the first study to find consistent genetic changes that predispose to this disorder, giving researchers new leads for the development of therapeutics."

The study was funded by a $652,000 grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s (MDA) Augie's Quest, a fast-track ALS research program, in collaboration with TGen. Blood donated for the study came from the MDA/ALS Center at Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, the Forbes Norris MDA/ALS Center at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, the MDA/ALS Center at the University of Pittsburgh, and the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig MDA/ALS Center at Columbia University in New York, as well as a dozen other collection sites comprising the Western ALS Study Group (WALS) throughout the United States.

NHGRI awards $15M to drive development of next-gen sequencing technology

[Source: GenomeWeb News] -- The National Human Genome Research Institute has pumped over $15 million into 12 new grants to develop methods and technologies aimed at “dramatically” reducing the cost of genomic sequencing, with a target of lowering the price of sequencing individual human genomes down to $1,000. The grants are part of NHGRI’s ambitious pursuit of “a future in which each person’s genome can be sequenced as a routine part of medical research and health care,” the institute said in a statement.

"Innovative sequencing technologies are critical to our efforts to move advances in genomic knowledge into the clinic,” said NHGRI director Francis Collins, because the “era of personalized medicine will demand more efficient and cost-effective approaches to DNA sequencing.”

The current round of next-generation sequencing grants were awarded to eight researchers who are working on developing technology to enable the $1,000 genome, and to three scientists who will try to develop sequencing technology that will sequence the human genome for $100,000 or less.

Today, it still costs as much as $5 million to sequence the roughly three billion base pairs of DNA found in humans and other mammals. "The different approaches will likely result in several successful and complementary technologies,” said NHGRI program director for technology development, Jeffrey Schloss. Schloss said NHGRI will “monitor carefully to see how each technology progresses and which of them can ultimately be used by the average researcher or health care provider."

NHGRI awarded its “$1,000 Genome” grants to the following recipients:

Richard Fair
Duke University
$3,686,000 (three years)
“Continuous Sequencing-by-Synthesis, Based on a Digital Microfluidic Platform”
The team will use droplet-based microfluidics in sequencing-by-synthesis studies aimed at extending read length, minimizing reaction volume and increasing throughput to 10,000 reactions in “a very small area.”

Stuart Lindsay
Arizona State University
$877,000 (three years)
“Sequencing by Recognition”
This research team seeks to develop molecular wires that are sufficiently flexible and sensitive to allow for use in ‘sequencing by recognition’ methods involving nanopores.

Xinsheng Sean Ling
Brown University
$820,000 (three years)
“Hybridization-Assisted Nanopore DNA Sequencing”
This group will use solid-state nanopores to find where DNA sequences attach by hybridization, which through repetition may allow determination of long strands of DNA.

Wlodek Mandecki
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
$1,672,000 (three years)
“Ribosome-Based Single Molecule Method to Acquire Sequence Data from Genomes”
The group will modify key ribosome components to read nucleotide sequences. By “sequencing” messenger RNA, DNA sequences could be determined, the group anticipates.

Andre Marziali
University of British Columbia
$746,000 (three years)
“Nanopore Array Force Spectroscopy Chip for Rapid Clinical Genotyping”
This team will develop solid-state, nanopore-based force spectroscopy to detect sequence variation. The team previously demonstrated the ability to detect sequences “at single base resolution using organic nanopore force spectroscopy.”

John S. Oliver
$498,000 (two years)
“Hybridization-Assisted Nanopore Sequencing”
These researchers will work with a group at Brown University to develop biochemical and algorithmic components for a sequencing-by-hybridization method.

Robert Riehn
North Carolina State University
$439,000 (two years)
“Sequencing DNA by Transverse Electrical Measurements in Nanochannels”
The team aims to stretch long DNA molecules by passing them through nanofluidic channels, then to fit nanoelectrodes into those channels to detect electrical signal of DNA bases.

H. Kumar Wickramasinghe
University of California, Irvine
$2,184,000 (three years)
“High-Throughput, Low-Cost DNA Sequencing Using Probe Tip Arrays”
The group will try to use nanoscale electrophoretic separation of DNA fragments on an atomic force microscope probe tip in an effort to speed up and scale down the Sanger sequencing method. Then it will implement these “very challenging separations” on a massively parallel sequencing platform that contains hundreds of probe tips.

NHGRI awarded “$100,000 Genome" grants to the following researchers:

Jeremy Edwards
University of New Mexico School of Medicine
$900,000 (three years)
“Polony Sequencing the Human Genome”
This group’s goal is to use polony genome sequencing technology to resequence the human genome “within a week for less than $10,000” by improving sequencing data and advancing the computational tools that are used in genome assembly.

Jingyue Ju
Columbia University (two grants)
$644,000 (two years)
“3'-O-Modified Nucleotide Reversible Terminators for Pyrosequencing”
The researcher will use the funds to design a library of synthetic molecular tools intended to optimize pyrosequencing.

$2,217,000 (two years)
“An Integrated System for DNA Sequencing by Synthesis”
The group will continue to develop and optimize a set of fluorescent nucleotide reversible terminators for sequencing-by-synthesis, and it will work to develop a new method for prepping DNA beads for attachment to a substrate.

David Schwartz
University of Wisconsin, Madison
$882,000 (three years)
“Sequence Acquisition from Mapped Single DNA Molecules”
This team will develop a system for analyzing large amounts of human genome data that connects the location of sequence elements to map information, and will include information about structural variations and aberrations that could be linked to other sequencing data.

'Better Than Ever' teams up with El Tour for 2nd annual bike training program

Better than Ever, an Arizona Cancer Center-based fitness and fundraising program, invites the community to participate in the 2nd Annual Bike Training Program to complete the 35-mile or 66-mile event of El Tour on Nov. 17, 2007. Better Than Ever has training programs designed for beginners, seasoned riders, and all skill levels in between. In exchange for training, participants are asked to raise funds for the Arizona Cancer Center. One hundred percent of the funds raised go directly to cancer research and prevention at the Center. Since its first program in September 2000, Better Than Ever has encouraged more than 2,500 people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels to become more fit while raising awareness and more than $1.3 million for research at the Arizona Cancer Center.

Starting Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007, the Bike Training Program will provide participants with weekly training rides led by volunteer coaches from Sabino Cycles. Participants also will receive a training packet with a suggested training schedule, training advice, educational lectures, and numerous social events with fellow Better Than Ever bikers. In return for the training program and coaching, program participants are asked to raise $250 for the Arizona Cancer Center. If you would like to train on your own but still be involved with fund raising for the Arizona Cancer Center, the Better Than Ever program invites you to be a part of their team by raising $100 for cancer research and prevention. Whether you are a seasoned rider or just a beginner, Heather Alberts, Founder of Better Than Ever, invites you to join her at the Kick Off for the 2nd Annual Better Than Ever Training Program:
  • Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007
  • 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Arizona Cancer Center, Kiewit Auditorium (1515 N. Campbell Ave.)
The deadline for registration is Sept. 14, 2007. For more information, please call (520) 626-7177.