Flinn Scholars News

Biodesign receives influx of funding from NIH

Flinn staff reports


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The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University has been awarded two major grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for research in DNA sequencing and bioterrorism.

Biodesign chemist Peiming Zhang and collaborator Jian Gu have received a $897,000 grant from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the NIH, to work on a project focused on dramatically lowering the cost of DNA sequencing.

Zhang and Gu will work to reduce the cost of human genome sequencing to $1,000 or less—10,000 times lower than the current cost—to make enable the process to become a routine diagnostic tool in medical care.

The award to Zhang and his team was one of only nine grants given by the NIH to achieve the $1,000 goal for genome sequencing.

Tsafrir Mor, a Biodesign researcher and assistant professor in ASU's School of Life Sciences, received another major NIH grant—a five-year, $2.67 million award to develop improved antidotes for civilian populations vulnerable to chemical agent poisoning by terrorist attack.

The grant represents ASU's portion of a larger, $14.4 million NIH effort named the CounterACT (Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats) Center of Excellence. The program is led by Dr. David Lenz of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense.

"Nerve agents, such as sarin, are among the most lethal chemical weapons ever developed," said Moore. "They have been used in wars as recently as the 1980s and by terrorist organizations such as the subway attacks in Japan in the mid 1990s."

"The work of this new center will lead to a paradigm shift in how to treat nerve agent exposure."

For more information:

"NIH funds next generation of DNA sequencing projects at ASU," Biodesign Institute news release, 01/30/2007

"Biodesign Institute takes part in $14.4 million NIH chemical defense grant," Biodesign Institute news release, 02/09/2007