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NSF $477,783 award to support gene research

A $477,783 award from the National Science Foundation will enhance the instrumentation at Miami's Center for Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics (CBFG).

Luis Actis (microbiology), CBFG director, and Chris Wood, coordinator, are co-principal investigators of the major research instrumentation grant. Other co-principal investigators are Hailiang Dong (geology), Matthew W. Fields (microbiology), and Q. Quinn Li (botany).

The funding will allow Miami to acquire state-of-the-art technology needed to study complex biological problems at the genetic level, applicable to the emerging fields of bioinformatics, genomics and computational biology.

“This is a truly multidisciplinary project that involves the departments of botany, chemistry/biochemistry, geology, microbiology and zoology,” explains Actis. “We are very excited with the opportunity of bringing this technology to Miami, which will put us on the map and will allow us to better prepare and train our students, attract better faculty and student candidates and be more competitive for external funding.“

Development of improved DNA sequencing technology within the past several years has made it possible to examine organisms at the most fundamental level - DNA - and was a key factor in the completion last year of the Human Genome Project in record time. Decoding of the human genome is already leading to the creation of genetically targeted drugs and gene therapies.

According to Wood, the new instrumentation at the CBFG includes a high-throughput DNA sequencer, with the capability to handle a very large number of samples per day - and 50 times the capability of the CBFG's initial instrumentation - and a robotic liquid-handling system.

In addition, a computer cluster with a super disk storage capacity will help researchers further analyze their data. The cluster will house 400 bioinformatics software analysis programs as well as the GenBank database, a collection of all publicly available DNA sequences. (Administered by the National Institutes of Health, GenBank contains more than 37 billion bases in more than 32 million sequence records).

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Date Published: 10/28/2004
Volume: 24   Number: 13

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