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Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology Gets $1.5M from Alcon to Study Blindness

NEW YORK, Dec. 14 (GenomeWeb News) - The Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology has signed a five-year, $1.5 million contract with Alcon Research to find genomic-based methods to prevent blindness, the groups said today.

The collaboration, for research into the causes of age-related macular degeneration, adds to a similar five-year deal signed in 2003 designed to help scientists better understand glaucoma. The earlier deal was also for $1.5 million.

Leading the project will be Terry Braun, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and ophthalmology and visual sciences at the UI and director of the Coordinated Laboratory for Computational Genomics, and Robert Mullins, assistant professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences and director of the Chorioretinal Degenerations Laboratory in the UI Center for Macular Degeneration.

Braun is developing bioinformatics software tools to enable researchers to identify potential therapeutic targets and to accelerate mutation screening of candidate genes for glaucoma and macular degeneration, respectively. The software will "annotate and manage all gene-associated data, help identify and prioritize glaucoma and macular degeneration candidate genes and identify potential therapeutic targets," CBCB said in a statement.


Mullins, meantime, will acquire tissue samples, perform gene-expression profiling in ocular tissues from individuals with AMD, and evaluate the expression of selected target genes in the retina. Mullins is also developing AMD models in model organisms for further study, the statement said.

CBCB is a joint enterprise of the University of Iowa College of Engineering and the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

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