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Tufts Wins $9.5M Stimulus Grant for New Collaborative Cluster in Medford, Mass.

This report has been updated to include additional information from Tufts on the cost, status, and timeframe of the project, and its projected number of new research positions.

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences has won an approximately $9.5 million federal stimulus grant toward design and construction of its planned Collaborative Cluster in Genome Structure and Developmental Patterning in Health and Disease.

The facility is designed to focus on "genome to organism" research, with the goals of advancing treatment of hereditary diseases, preventing birth defects, and facilitating tissue regeneration, Tufts said in a statement.

The collaborative cluster will create space for some 70 researchers from Tufts' biology department and be located at an existing building in Medford, Mass. Up to 14 additional scientific research positions will be created through the project, Tufts spokeswoman Kim Thurler told GenomeWeb Daily News.

The cluster is designed to foster cross-disciplinary research between engineers and biologists specializing in genome structure and stability, developmental and regenerative biology, and tissue engineering, according to Tufts.

The grant will cover most of the project's total cost of approximately $13 million.

"The project is in the early planning stages and will need to go through a number of reviews with the NIH," Thurler said.

Over the next two years, Tufts plans to redesign office and laboratory space it is leasing at 200 Boston Ave. into 16,527 square feet of wet laboratories and support facilities. The new space will be built to the "gold" standard of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design energy efficiency standard developed by the US Green Building Council.

"We expect the research space to be completed in
early 2012," Thurler said.

The building, owned by Cummings Foundation Inc. of Woburn, Mass., is already home to biomedical researchers from the university's biology department and School of Engineering. They collaborate on research in regenerative medicine, nanobiological structures, neural processes, and biomimetic devices.

Tufts said its current collaborations include studies in model systems of diseases, such as fragile X mental retardation, Huntington's disease, and Friedreich's ataxia.

"We also expect the cluster to intensify collaboration with math and computer science faculty, and with researchers from such external organizations as Harvard Medical School, and the National Institutes of Health," Juliet Fuhrman, chair of Tufts' biology department, said in the statement.

NIH's National Center for Research Resources awarded the university the grant, which was funded through the $862 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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