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MIT, Harvard, Whitehead Join Forces to Create ber-Genomics Institute

NEW YORK, June 19 - The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Whitehead Institute have partnered to create a new institute that aims at turning information from the human genome project into real-world medical benefits.

 

The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute, which expects to open its doors later this year in the Kendall Square area of Cambridge, plans to raise up to $200 million in federal grants private support for its research programs over the next 10 years.

 

Eric Lander, founder and director of the Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research, and a member of the MIT Center for Cancer Research, will be director of The Broad Institute.

 

Among its goals, the institute hopes to develop "tools for genomic medicine" and "make them broadly available to scientists around the world, and to "pioneer applications of these tools to the study of disease, in orderto propel the understanding, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of disease."

 

The Broad -- pronounced 'code' -- Institute plans to use the tools to "understand the molecular basis of broad aspects of medicine, such as cancer; metabolic disorders, including diabetes, obesity and heart disease; andinflammatory and infectious diseases.

 

"Work will range from research on basic models related to disease mechanisms to the collection and molecular analysis of clinical materials, employing the toolkit for genomic medicine to take global views of biological systems," the partners said.

 

The institute said it intends to "complement" existing research efforts at other labs by becoming a "catalyst and nucleus" for broader collaborations "that cannot readily be accomplished in the traditional setting of individual academic laboratories."

 

The Broad Institute will comprise individual research labs as well as larger, "team-based" programs that will develop and employ genomic tools. The institute will conduct research ranging from basic biology to clinical medicine, and will have at its disposal computational scientists, chemists, and engineers.

 

"An important aspect of The Broad Institute's work will be computational biology, which is increasingly central in converting the explosion in biological information into useful biomedical knowledge," the partners said.

 

Eventually, the institute will expects to employ 12 core faculty members and around 30 associated faculty members from MIT, Harvard, and the Whitehead. According to the partners, the core faculty will be appointed on a "long-term basis" and will "lead major programs" within the institute. Associated faculty will be appointed on a rotating basis.

 

The initial core faculty will include: Eric Lander, director; Stuart Schreiber, chair and Morris Loeb Professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard University; David Altshuler, assistant professor of genetics and medicine at the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and director of the Medical and Population Genetics program at Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research; and Todd Golub, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, associate investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and director of the cancer genomics program at Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research. Additional core faculty will be added over time. The Broad Institute expects at least 15 associated faculty members to be appointed before the institute is launched later this year.

 

"The creation of The Broad Institute builds on the increasingly numerous and successful inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaborations in our community," said Joseph B. Martin, Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine. "It is this type of synergy among our various faculty that will accelerate the transition of the genomic revolution into medical practice."

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