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Minnesota Genomics Partnership Teams with Karolinska Institute

This report was updated to include additional comment from a Mayo Clinic spokesman.

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics — consisting of the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic — said today that it has committed itself to a formal ongoing collaboration with Sweden's Karolinska Institute through a strategic research relationship.

The collaboration, formally called the Frontiers of Biomedical Research, said in a statement its initial plans include establishing fellowships for promising young investigators toward exchanges in specific research areas.

Research collaborations, according to the Frontiers, will focus on 'omics specialties, such as genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics; development of vaccines and therapeutic agents against infectious agents such as HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis; and regenerative medicine.

These are also current areas of research by the institutions that comprise the Frontiers.

"What this does is it formalizes the relationship. Everything else had been done by small groups of researchers or individual researchers. Certainly that research has been fruitful and growing. And [Frontiers] builds on that foundation," Robert Nellis, a Mayo Clinic spokesman, told GenomeWeb Daily News. "What does does is provide some higher level focus for areas of interest common to all of us."

The institutions said they have established dedicated funding toward new "Frontiers Awards" intended to support postdoctoral-level investigators. The awards will provide support for one year of research in the lab of a senior investigator, with an active collaboration at the institution of award recipients, the institutions said.

Senior investigators from all three institutions will establish collaborations, while the institutions will participate in a planned annual Frontiers Research Conference/Symposium.

The institutions said they hope to build on existing relationships, reflected last month in a visit to Minnesota by Karolinska's President Harriett Wallberg-Henriksson, in which she received an honorary degree from the University of Minnesota.

According to the institutes, Karolinska researchers have worked in the UM labs of Robert Elde, Alfred Michael, and Gregory Vercellotti, while the university's Peter Bitterman and Mayo's Sree Nair are among scientists from both institutions that have pursued research at Karolinska, which this year celebrates the 200th anniversary of its founding.

Mayo has had ties with Karolinska stretching 17 years; the university, about as long if not longer, Nellis said.

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