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Carnegie Mellon Lands $4M for Nucleic Acids Center

By a GenomeWeb Staff Reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Center for Nucleic Acids Science and Technology (CNAST) at Carnegie Mellon University has received a $3.9 million donation from the DSF Charitable Foundation, which it plans to use to develop new tools for manipulating and monitoring gene expression.

The university said today that CNAST plans to use the funding to support interdisciplinary research, including studies using peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) — synthetic analogs of DNA and RNA — and other tools to understand the genetic and molecular basis of diseases, and to develop treatments.

In addition to funding research projects at the center, the grant also will support the creation of a facility for producing PNAs and to support graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.

"CNAST's innovation is emblematic of the high-risk, high-return science we do, and for which federal funding is notoriously difficult to secure," Richard McCullough, the center's VP for research, said in a statement. He added that the donation "will help us to jump-start some amazing projects so that we can successfully vie for these additional funds."

"In our labs we've been looking at PNA as a sophisticated way to regulate expression," CNAST Co-Director and Professor of Chemistry Bruce Armitage said. "We don't need to totally turn off a gene in order to prevent disease. If we reduce the amount of gene expression by as little as 20 percent, it could have a profound effect."

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