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Washington State Funnels $10M into Two Genomics Programs

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A Washington State investment fund has awarded just over $10 million to support genomics research projects in the state as part of a $22 million biology-focused initiative.
Under the Life Sciences Discovery Fund’s new program, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was awarded $4.8 million for biomarker research and $5.3 million to build a new genomics infrastructure at the University of Washington. Three other non-genomic, life science research programs received the rest of the funds.
The LSDF chose this first group of five total grantees from 75 proposals that had been evaluated by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The money comes from Washington State’s portion of bonus payments from the Master Tobacco settlement that came from multi-state litigation with tobacco companies.
Richard Smith of PNNL will use $4.8 million to fund next-generation clinical proteomics research to be conducted with the University of Washington. Smith aims to develop new proteomics technology that could be used to hunt for blood biomarkers for liver disease and to study cancer, diabetes, and other conditions.
The researchers hope to find a safer, non-invasive diagnostic for liver fibrosis than biopsy.
According to LSDF, the research also will focus on extending the technology platform to address problems in other diseases and to make it commercially available for broad commercial use.
The University of Washington’s Gail Jarvik will use $5.3 million to build a new infrastructure that will enable high-volume analysis of genomic data in medical genetics.
The goal is to optimize these resources for translational research focused on developing gene-based diagnostics, prevention strategies, and treatments, LSDF said. The UW researchers expect over the long term to identify a large number of disease-related biomarkers that could potentially be used to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic agents.

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