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University of Maryland School of Medicine awarded $20M from NIH

Baltimore Business Journal - by Julekha Dash Staff

The National Institutes of Health has awarded $20 million to the University of Maryland School of Medicine to create a new genome center that will conduct research to help fight infectious diseases.

The grant is the largest awarded to the school’s Institute for Genome Sciences since it was formed two years ago.

The contract was given to the university’s Institute for Genome Sciences, which will use the money to create a Genomic Sequencing Center for Infectious Diseases. The institute will use the funding to sequence and analyze the genomes of bioterrorism agents and disease outbreaks, such as swine flu or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The research could lead to the creation of new drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tools to treat infectious diseases.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the NIH, awarded contracts to three institutions to create genomic sequencing centers. The other two awards went to the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard and the J. Craig Venter Institute, a nonprofit research institute in Rockville that received $43 million from the NIH.

The NIH designed the program to allow research centers like the Institute for Genome Sciences to respond quickly to in the event of a bioterrorist attack or an outbreak of an infectious disease.

With the creation of the genomic sequencing center, Maryland scientists can quickly gain approval from the NIH to sequence and analyze the genome sequence of a new disease.

The Institute for Genome Sciences is headed by Dr. Claire Fraser-Liggett, a genome scientist and microbiologist and the former president of the Institute of Genomic Research in Rockville. It is located at the University of Maryland, Baltimore BioPark.