Northwestern receives $17 million for functional genomics research

EVANSTON, Ill. Northwestern University has been awarded one of its largest research grants in history, a $17 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a major new research initiative in genetics and functional genomics.

The research at the new NIH Neurogenomics Center at Northwestern could lead to a more complete understanding of the human nervous system and behavior, including neurological disorders ranging from Alzheimers disease and addiction to blindness and sleep disorders.

"The timing of this project is perfect," said center director Joseph S. Takahashi, who cloned the first mammalian circadian gene, Clock, in 1997. "Our work will be very complementary and synergistic with the information being produced by the Human Genome Project."

The Northwestern center is one of three such centers in the country. Researchers will utilize mutations in mice and genome-wide screening methods to identify genes responsible for behaviors such as learning and memory, vision, circadian rhythms, the propensity to become addicted, sensitivity to stress and the development of anxiety.

Takahashi, professor of neurobiology and physiology and a member of the neurology department at the Universitys Medical School, expects the centers findings to provide information useful for understanding the sequence of the human genome and for developing new bioinformatics databases and tools to interpret the genome.

The center will be housed at Northwestern, as part of the Universitys new Center for Functional Genomics, but will operate in conjunction with collaborative sites at Columbia University, Duke University and the University of Iowa. Eric R. Kandel, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine last year, will lead the effort at Columbia, with Marc G. Caron, professor of cell biology, at Duke and Val C. Sheffield, professor of pediatrics, at Iowa.

Co-investigators from Northwestern are Jon E. Levine, Lawrence H. Pinto and Fred W. Turek from

Contact: Megan Fellman
Northwestern University

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