UD News: Gene-repair pioneer, Eric Kmiec, brings his lab to the University of Delaware

Molecular biologist Eric B. Kmiec--who stunned the scientific community six years ago by inventing a technique for repairing disease-causing genetic mutations--has selected the University of Delaware as the site for his Laboratory of Gene Therapy.

Author of the landmark "350 patent" covering a specially engineered molecule that fixes "snips" (single nucleotide polymorphisms) in nature's blueprinting material, Kmiec will focus on sickle-cell anemia, Huntington's Disease and food-crop advances. He also will develop a gene therapy course while supervising graduate and undergraduate researchers at UD.

Kmiec and his half-dozen team members should play a key role in UD's rapidly expanding life sciences effort, according to Daniel D. Carson, chairperson of the Department of Biological Sciences, and Provost Mel Schiavelli.

As director of the UD Laboratory of Gene Therapy, Kmiec also is expected to work closely with the new Delaware Biotechnology Institute--a government, industry, academic partnership spearheaded by Director David S. Weir--and with researchers at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.

Why Delaware?

Kmiec (pronounced "ku-METCH") says he was impressed by UD's commitment to undergraduate education and involvement of undergraduates in research, as well as the idyllic setting.

Most convincing, however, were University faculty like Associate Prof. Cindy Carson, an internationally recognized expert in bone development who first told him about UD during a National Institutes of Health (NIH) event. The Carsons' national reputation and their ongoing study of embryonic and tumor-cell development, which Kmiec describes as "among the best anywhere," were central selling points, he adds. (Already, Kmiec plans a joint effort with the Carsons to alter certain cellular events involved in the development of breast, melanoma and prostate tumors.)

"UD chose the right people to launch a shift in their programs," Kmiec says. "I believe

Contact: Ginger Pinholster
University of Delaware

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