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AXA Research Fund Awards $2.1M for Research Chairs in Age-Related Disease, Rice Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The AXA Research Fund, the international scientific philanthropic initiative of the AXA insurance group, said today it has provided €1.5 million ($2.1 million) to fund two new research chairs for scientists seeking to study disease-related and crop genomics projects.

The research chair awards are part of a new round of grants that will provide a total of €12 million to fund 38 projects in 15 countries that focus on major health, environmental, and socio-economic challenges and issues.

One of the research chair awards will provide €1 million to Professor Ben Lehner at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona. Lehner is studying how genetic and environmental variations contribute to the development of age-related diseases. He will use simple model organisms and large-scale computational analyses to combine data at the level of individuals to contribute to the development of personalized medicine tools to help protect against individual risks for cancer and other diseases.

The AXA funding also will provide €500,000 to Rod Wing at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. Wing will lead efforts to use comparative genomics and genome assembly tools to analyze 3,000 rice genomes, including wild and cultivated varieties. The aim is to discover traits and develop new rice strains that can help growers deal with problems associated with global climate change.

Since 2007, the AXA Research Fund has provided €114 million to fund 410 research projects.