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Washington State Fund Pumps $3.7M into Personalized Medicine, Protein Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Washington State's Life Sciences Discovery Fund has awarded approximately $3.7 million to fund regional research projects that aim to develop and use genomic and protein-based technologies for use in personalized diagnostics and therapeutics.

LSDF, funded by the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement, said yesterday that it has awarded $2.4 million in funding under its Opportunity Grants program to support two large-scale research and development programs, and $1,250,000 to fund several proof-of-concept projects.

The LSDF opportunity grant funding includes $1.4 million to fund the launch of a new initiative at the University of Washington's Institute for Protein Design. The Institute, led by UW Professor David Baker, seeks to design new proteins that can be used in medicine, energy, and other technology areas. The LSDF funding will support the launch of a new Therapeutics, Vaccines, and Diagnostics Objective at the institute.

At the Seattle Children's Institute, researcher Michael Jensen won a $1 million LSDF award to fund efforts to study a T-cell cancer therapy that is in clinical trials and to identify characteristics of the T cells and tumors that correlate with the effectiveness of treatment.

The proof-of-concept funding will provide $250,000 each to fund five total grants.

Among those grant winners is the Institute for Systems Biology's Ilya Shmulevich, who will use the award to develop web-based tools for analyzing cancer genetic data for use in studies of tumor biology and to help facilitate personalized therapies.

ISB investigator Jennifer Smith also received a grant to develop a blood-based assay for pre-symptomatic Alzheimer's disease that would enable earlier interventions, treatment monitoring, and would support drug trials.

UW investigator Deok-Ho Kim also won a grant to fund a project to develop an assay that drug developers could use to identify therapies that may be cardiotoxic before these therapies are used in humans.