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W.M. Keck Foundation Grants $1M to Purdue for Epigenetics Research

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Purdue University has received a $1 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to develop technologies to alter epigenetic marks in the genome that turn genes on and off.

The research, the university said, may result in new ways of treating genetic diseases.

In addition to the Keck grant, the research team, led by Joseph Irudayaraj, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, will receive up to $750,000 from the respective departments and colleges of the team's members as well as matching grants from Purdue's Bindley Bioscience Center, the Purdue Center for Cancer Research, and the Birck Nanotechnology Center. The total $1.7 million in funding will cover three years of work, Purdue said.

The researchers will focus on neuronal stem cells. Epigenetic processes determine whether such cells become neural brain cells or glial cells, which become a form of brain cancer called glioma.

"If we understand the code to turn on or turn off the glial cells, we may be able to tackle and turn off the tumor in the brain," said research team member Feng Zhou, a professor of anatomy and cell biology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Other members on the project include Sophie Lelivere, an associate professor of basic medical sciences at Purdue; Ann Kirchmaier, an associate professor of biochemistry at the university; and Amy Lossie, an assistant professor of animal sciences at Purdue.

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