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Minnesota May Budget $16M for Mayo Partnership

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Minnesota lawmakers will consider spurring genomics research with a $16 million grant over two years to fund a partnership between the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Foundation.

Two bills proposing the funding have been introduced in the State House of Representatives and Senate that seek $8 million in both fiscal years 2010 and 2011 to be given to the university for the partnership, which is aimed at funding medical genomics and other biotechnology research.

The bill was introduced recently in the Senate by Senator Ann Lynch (D – Rochester) and in the House by Kim Norton (D – Rochester), and it includes a directive that the university's board of regents may not reduce the funding it passes along to the partnership without conferring first with committee chairs at the house and senate.

Representative Norton told GenomeWeb Daily News in an e-mail that in the last state legislative session the original bill requested $15 million for the Minnesota Partnership in ongoing, annual funding, but the legislature approved only the $8 million per-year level.

Norton said that the university last year made the decision to cut $3 million out of the funding for the partnership in order to balance the school's budget.

Because of that unilateral decision, Norton explained, "it was believed that stronger language needed to be included so that it was the 'partners' in the MN Partnership, in consort with the legislature who approved the funds, [who] should decide whether the funds could be taken for another purpose."

Mayo Government Relations Specialist Franklin Iossi said in an e-mail that both Mayo Clinic and the Minnesota Partnership are behind the legislation, saying that "it is encouraging to have this support for research, especially in these economic times."