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Rutgers DNA Bank Collects $9.6M from Stimulus

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Rutgers University will use a $9.6 million stimulus grant from the National Center for Research Resources to renovate and expand its DNA and cell biobank and genomics services facility in Piscataway, NJ.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding will create new lab and office space in the Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository (RUCDR), a resource center that in addition to housing samples also provides a range of life sciences and genomics services and supports Rutgers research.

The money will be used to renovate the second floor of a wing in the Nelson Biology Laboratories on the school's Busch Campus and to complete construction of a new storage facility for research samples.

"The new facility will continue our work on all of the diseases that we study, everything from autism to bowel disorders," explained Jay Tischfield, a MacMillan Professor and Chair of the Department of Genetics at Rutgers, in a statement.

Tischfield said that the National Institutes of Health stimulus funding was needed to expand the RUCDR because of "unprecedented demand for its specialized ability to extract, process, and analyze DNA and other biological samples" for a wide range of applications.

"The amount of work we do has been doubling every two to three years," Tischfield said, adding that the center's work load is "at least 20 times as much as when we started 12 years ago."

Once the new facility is operational it will house at least 50 RUDCR employees, including roughly 30 new hires, and new positions in maintenance, security, construction, and other areas will add to the stimulation effects of the grant.

"So one of the things we've done here is we put together one of the world's largest collections of subjects with various diseases," Tischfield said. "Now we can interrogate very deeply the DNA of thousands if not tens of thousands of people. And this allows us to get a real handle on the causes of these common diseases."

The RUDCR conducts a wide array of service activities including extraction of high molecular weight, PCR-amplifiable DNA from blood, cultured cells, or tissue samples; whole-genome DNA amplification for samples containing very limited amounts of DNA; production of genetic maps from independent studies of the same disorder; whole-genome and regional SNP genotyping using several different technology platforms; gene-expression surveys, including data analysis using custom oligonucleotide microarrays and real-time PCR; high-throughput, microchip assays of nucleic acids and proteins; shipment of biomaterials under government approved conditions; separation and storage of plasma and other biomaterials; and high-throughput robotics for arraying genomic DNA in tubes or microwell plates and for arraying oligos on glass slides or membranes.

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