According to the grant abstracts, the project is "an unprecedented partnership" between two large-scale sequencing centers — at Baylor College of Medicine and at the Broad Institute — and a network of research labs focused on the genetics of autism, brought together by the Autism Genome Project and the Autism Consortium.
While the funding will directly benefit UMMS researcher Michael Czech, it is also expected to be a boon for RXi Pharmaceuticals, which Czech co-founded, since the company holds an exclusive license to the delivery technology for therapeutic RNAi applications.
The $600,000 award also strengthens Inviragen's ties to UW-Madison. The company's CSO maintains an academic appointment and a research lab within the School of Veterinary Medicine, which has collaborated with Inviragen on other projects.
Of that total, more than $2 million has been handed out to finance therapeutic RNAi research, including the development of new delivery approaches and treatments for HIV-1 and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
The size and number of awards under the first two opportunities will depend on the availability of funding. For the third funding opportunity, the NIH has set aside $1.2 million to be distributed in 2010.
CEO Jay Flatley attributed a "faster than expected slowdown" in the San Diego firm's array business to researchers delaying new rounds of genome-wide association studies. Customers are also waiting to see if their projects will receive stimulus funding, he said.
The vendors hope to help customers obtain funding from a new program called NIH Challenge Grants, which will set aside between $100 million and $200 million, and the National Centers for Research Resources, which will get an additional $300 million.