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Proteomics Projects to Get Boost from ARRA Funds, Private Grants

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Proteomics-directed research projects will benefit from several recent gifts and awards, including grants awarded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Last week, Sen. Evan Bayh's (D-Ind.) office announced that $3.2 million in funding from ARRA, more commonly known as the economic stimulus bill, had been awarded to universities throughout Indiana for life-sciences directed research.

Included is a $968,680 award to Purdue University and one for an unclear amount to Indiana University.

The grant to Purdue is for the purchase of a Thermo Fisher Scientific Orbitrap mass spectrometer for protein analysis. The statement from Bayh's office did not identify the PI, but an NIH database lists Andy Weiguo Tao at Purdue as the PI for a grant with a start date of May 21 for the purchase of an Orbitrap.

The grant to IU is for a project titled "Proteome-wide identification of RNA-binding proteins." The lead PI on the grant is Cheng Kao, according to a search of an NIH database, though the amount of the award is unclear.

Bayh's office did not list the grant amount in its statement announcing the grants. His office did not respond to left messages.

According to the statement, the project lays "the groundwork for further research on genetic host factors that can influence the outcome of hepatitis C virus infection."

Separately, the Medical College of Wisconsin said this week it had received a $10 million gift from Robert and Patricia Kern to develop an innovation center "to advance biomedical research, education, and collaboration" in southeastern Wisconsin.

The money will be used in part to purchase about five mass spectrometers to add to its portfolio of nine, Andrew Greene, director of the Biotechnology and Bioengineering Center at the College, told ProteoMonitor.

The center is one of 10 national proteomics centers funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. The gift from the Kerns will help the facility provide additional mass spec services to the region, Greene said. In addition, the center will allow students interested in technology development to "take those areas of engineering and physical science knowledge and apply them to the life sciences through the use of mass spectrometry," he said.

In addition to proteomics, the instruments will be used for metabolomics and small-molecule research. No decision has been made on what platforms will be purchased.

Finally, the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California said that the Ellison Medical Foundation had awarded it $5 million to support cancer research.

The research will be headed by David Agus, who joined the Keck School Faculty last month as a professor medicine, and will serve as PI on a project titled "Molecular Technologies in Cancer," according to a statement from the school.

It adds that Agus' research "in proteomic technology seeks to integrate clinical trials, pre-clinical studies, and molecularly targeted therapy — which focuses on molecular and cellular changes that are specific to cancer — to predict which patients will likely respond to specific anti-cancer therapy."

Agus was director of the Spielberg Family Center for Applied Proteomics and research director of the Louis Warschaw Prostate Cancer Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical College. He is a co-founder of consumer genomics firm Navigenics.

Agus conducts research using new technologies in proteomics and nanotechnology "that reveal valuable information regarding 'on' and 'off' switches of the cancer and ultimately a more complete understanding of the various factors that influence cancer development, progression, and response to treatment," the Keck School said.

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