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Georgia Tech/Emory Center to study origin of life
Date:9/18/2007

The Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have received a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish "The Origins Project," a center for integrated research, education and public outreach focused on the chemistry that may have led to the origin of life. The center also includes the participation of Spelman College in Atlanta and Jackson State University in Mississippi.

The NSF is supporting The Origins Project as part of an effort to address "big picture" questions in chemistry through the formation of Chemical Bonding Centers (CBC).

"Our ultimate goal is to understand which molecules and which chemical reactions started life on Earth around 3 billion years ago, and to engage the public in this scientific quest," said Nicholas Hud, associate professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Georgia Tech and principal investigator of The Origins Project.

"We now know the molecular coding sequence for the human genome, a scientific achievement that seemed very remote two decades ago. We believe it is also only a matter of time and effort before we will know what is required to get life started," said Emory's David Lynn, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Chemistry and Biology. Lynn will co-lead the center.

The CBC program is designed to support the formation of centers that can address major, long-term basic chemical research problems that have the potential to produce both transformative research and innovation in the field. The Georgia Tech-Emory grant is Phase I funding; at the end of Phase I in three years, the NSF may choose to approve The Origins Project for Phase II funding, which will provide up to $15 million over five years.

The center's research will seek to understand what molecules were present on the prebiotic earth, and to understand how molecular building blocks that are either identical or similar to ones found in life today can spontaneously form larger molecules, simil
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Contact: David Terraso
d.terraso@gatech.edu
404-385-2966
Georgia Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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