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$14 Million NIH grant launches heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders center at the Jackson Laboratory

Bar Harbor, Maine: Cracking the genetic codes controlling the vital physical functions of breathing, circulation, blood formation and sleep is now on the horizon. Taking advantage of new technologies and the similarity between the human and mouse genomes, the National Institutes of Health has made a four-year, $14 million grant to The Jackson Laboratory to establish a center for mouse models of heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders.

The center has two key goals: (1) developing new models and databases for biomedical researchers worldwide, and (2) advancing understanding of the genetic mechanisms underlying healthy function and diseases of the heart, lungs and blood, as well as the physiology of sleep. Dr. Luanne L. Peters, a Jackson Laboratory staff scientist, is the new centers program director. "Mice and humans share a remarkably similar genome, and get many of the same diseases, including atherosclerosis, hyperactive airways, and high blood pressure," Dr. Peters explains. "At The Jackson Laboratory, our knowledge of the mouse genome makes it possible for us to analyze complex human diseases, using powerful new genetic and molecular techniques to identify genes and track their interactions."

In the past, finding new mouse models of heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders has been difficult because many of these conditionshypertension, for exampledo not present an overt phenotype (i.e., show visible characteristics).

Also, though the human genome has been sequenced and the mouse genome is close to completion, a great deal still needs to be learned about how individual genes work and how multiple genes interact to cause complex diseases such as atherosclerosis and thrombosis. "Its estimated that humans and mice have up to 100,000 genes," Dr. Peters says, "but we know the function of fewer than 10% of them."

The Jackson Laboratory program is designed to address both problems using a "phenotype-driven" approach. "Well start out by studying some of
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Contact: Joyce Peterson
joyce@jax.org
207-288-6051
Jackson Laboratory
3-Oct-2000


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