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U of Florida Lands $1M Keck Grant

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Scientists at the University of Florida have won a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to fund research into how proteins in cells are created, and how that process may influence inherited human diseases.

The research will be led by UF Professor Laura Ranum, director of the university's Center for NeuroGenetics, will use the funding to continue research into how proteins are made and will search for disease-causing genes in the human genome.

"Our research disputes the conventional dogma about what causes proteins to be expressed within cells and why," Ranum said in a statement today.

That research found that repetitive genetic sequences, which account for up to 50 percent of the human genome, may be involved in unusual protein behavior that can influence human diseases. Ranum's research has focused on two diseases, including myotonic dystrophy and ataxia, a brain disease that affects coordination and motor control.

"We discovered that proteins can be made across some repetitive disease-causing mutations in the absence of 'green light' or 'start' signals, previously thought to be required. This discovery has the potential to change the course of scientific investigation on human disease because we may have been grossly underestimating the number of proteins cells express," Ranum explained.

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