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US DoD Provides $4.6M Grant for UTSA Genomics Center

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The University of Texas at San Antonio has won a $4.6 million grant from the US Department of Defense to establish a new genomics center that will focus on studying infectious pathogens and developing treatments and vaccines, UTSA said today.

The five-year grant to the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases was awarded by the Army Research Office to fund a Center of Excellence in Infection Genomics (CEIG), to support microbiology research, and teaching and educational activities in Army priority areas.

A central mission for the CEIG will be to characterize the functional properties of the genomes of infectious pathogens.

"UTSA researchers will study infectious organisms that threaten the Army here and abroad and develop technology to translate that research into practical solutions for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases," Bernard Arulanandam, UTSA's associate dean of research for scientific innovation in the UTSA College of Sciences and a biology professor, said in a statement.

The CEIG will focus its efforts on four broad research areas: the genomics of intestinal and respiratory pathogens; the biochemistry and molecular biology of vector-borne pathogens; the immunopathogenesis of fungal infections and anti-fungal drug development; and vaccine development.

Long-term, the center will aim to enhance UTSA's capacity in molecular genetics and genomics by building up its infrastructure, increase the number of underrepresented minority graduates in molecular biology and immunology, and increase the pools of students from regional high schools who are interested in pursuing careers in microbiology.

"The high school training component included in this new Department of Defense grant provides broader impact by training future scientists in San Antonio and the United States," added Edwin Barea-Rodriguez, chair of the UTSA Department of Biology.

The center's researchers also will collaborate with the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and the San Antonio Military Medical Center, a hospital and trauma center for wounded members of the military.

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