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University of Miami Lands $20M for Genomics Institute

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of Miami will use a $20 million gift to fund research at the Miller School of Medicine's Institute for Human Genomics, including a large-scale autism sequencing project and other research efforts, the University of Miami said yesterday.

The institute will take the name of the philanthropist donor, and will be called the John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics.

The focal projects will use next-generation genomic sequencing to study an extensive autism family dataset in order to develop knowledge about genes responsible for autism risk and to explain how those genes cause autism.

Hussman, who is president and principal shareholder of Hussman Econometrics Advisors, has a son who was diagnosed with autism 12 years ago at age 3.

At a ceremony marking the donation at the Miller School's Biomedical Research Building, University President Donna Shalala said that the funding will "accelerate the growth of this institute and we will become the most important center of this kind anywhere in the world."

The new funding will go toward matching an economic grant from the State of Florida of $80 million.

The institute's Director, Margaret Pericak-Vance, has discovered key genes that impact a range of disorders, including autism, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, and cardiovascular disease.