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Virginia Tech-led group receives third five-year international biodiversity grant

(Blacksburg, Va.) Ten years ago, a Virginia Tech-led team of chemists, conservationists, and botanists began to work in Suriname to discover new drugs and to give the country reasons to preserve the biodiversity of its forests. Five years later, in 1998, they were screening two potential anticancer compounds, had discovered five rare plants, and had saved some of the country's tropical forest from wood harvesting. They also expanded their research to Madagascar and have discovered four additional potential anticancer compounds.

Now the International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG), led by David G.I. Kingston of Blacksburg, Va., University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Tech, has received a third five-year grant. A consortium of Federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced 12 ICBG programs (www.nih.gov/news/pr/dec2003/fic-16.htm), which will total approximately $5 million per year over the next five years. The Fogarty International Center, which led development of the program in 1993, administers and supports the program with the co-sponsors.

Virginia Tech's partners in the third ICBG include the Missouri Botanical Garden, Conservation International, the Madagascar National Centers for Pharmaceutical Research, for Environmental Research, and for Oceanographic Research, the Eisai Pharmaceutical Research Institute, and Dow AgroSciences. In addition to tropical plants, the researchers will study marine organisms and microorganisms in Madagascar. "We've narrowed our scope geographically but broadened it scientifically," Kingston says.

Kingston said the four potential anticancer compounds, which were discovered by Virginia Tech graduate student Brent Yoder of Fort Wayne, In., from a Madagascar plant, are "potent" and "appear relatively easy to synthesize." They ha
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Contact: Susan Trulove
strulove@vt.edu
540-231-5646
Virginia Tech
19-Dec-2003


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