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Changing the face of biology

BETHESDA, Md. Modular design in living systems and decision-making at the cellular level are the themes of two new grants, totaling more than $31 million over 5 years, awarded this month to research teams at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The grants are part of an NIGMS initiative to establish Centers of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research, the first two of which were announced last year. This year, NIGMS is awarding $3 million to Harvard's Bauer Center for Genomics Research, as part of a 5-year project with total anticipated funding of approximately $15 million; and $3.6 million to MIT's Computational and Systems Biology Initiative, as part of another 5-year project with total funding expected to reach $16 million.

"One of the great goals of 21st-century science is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the building blocks of the body's cells and tissues and to determine how complex biological systems operate in both health and disease," said NIH Director Elias Zerhouni, M.D.

"Research projects such as these at Harvard and MIT promise to change the face of biology, not only in terms of scientists' understanding of biological complexity but also in the way scientists from diverse fields work together to solve today's most challenging problems in biomedicine," Zerhouni added.

Although each of the new centers will have a different focus, their approaches both reflect the overall aim of NIGMS' initiative: to unravel the complex patterns of biological interactions by making sense of the overwhelming wealth of data about the characteristics and functions of individual molecules generated by decades of research in fields such as genomics and molecular biology.

Since accomplishing this ambitious aim is well beyond the ability of any single researcher or laboratory, the NIGMS-s
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Contact: Dan Hogan
hogand@nigms.nih.gov
301-496-7301
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences
15-Sep-2003


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