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Rutgers targets Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan with $3.5 million from NIH

NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. Ilya Raskin is going hunting in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan for plants, fungi and microbes with pharmaceutical potential. With approximately $3.5 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Raskin, a member of the Biotechnology Center for Agriculture and the Environment at Rutgers' Cook College, has engaged colleagues in these Central Asian countries and at the University of Illinois in this groundbreaking venture. Matching funds from Rutgers, the University of Illinois and from corporate partners will bolster this multifaceted initiative.

Jerry Kukor, Lena Struwe, Jim White and David Zaurov from Cook College and Mary Ann Lila from the University of Illinois will be among the scientists accompanying Raskin on this major biodiversity exploration designed to improve human health, protect natural resources and benefit the economies of the host countries.

Rutgers' International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) Central Asia Program is rooted in existing collaborations with scientists in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. These cooperative relationships have placed Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, in a unique position in that part of the world.

"The extent of the goodwill, hospitality and friendship we encounter in these countries is truly unprecedented," said Raskin, a professor in the department of plant biology and pathology at Cook. "We feel fortunate to be a part of the rapidly developing political and economic ties between the United States, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. We are pleased that the world's geopolitical situation favors the development of strong and lasting ties with these two U.S.-friendly Muslim nations."

Rutgers' five-year undertaking is funded through NIH's ICBG program, which has three stated objectives: drug discovery, biodiversity conservation and economic development. The NIH vision contends that the discovery and development of products, such as pharmaceuti
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Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
7-Oct-2003


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