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Dartmouth Med School lands $11M grant for regional biomedical research center

HANOVER, NH Under an $11-million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) will lead a network of northern New England institutions in recruiting, training, and supporting young quantitative biologists to teach and conduct research into the ways that genes and the environment work together to trigger and prevent disease.

With computational geneticist Jason Moore, PhD as principal investigator, DMS will establish an NIH Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE.) Dartmouth scientists in several disciplines will join forces with colleagues at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Maine, the University of Vermont, Harvard University's national center for biomedical computing, the University of Southern Maine, Maine's Jackson Labs and Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, and Maine Medical Center.

"This grant complements and supports the Institute for Quantitative Biological Sciences (iQBS) that we started a year ago with funding from DMS and the provost at Dartmouth College," says Moore, who also serves as associate director of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at DMS. "The goals of the grant include the recruitment of talented young quantitative biologists to Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, which is essential for advancing biomedical research in our largely rural research setting, and mentoring junior faculty to help them become competitive for NIH funding. It also will provide funding to junior investigators for research projects, support bioinformatics and biostatistics research through an 'Integrative Biology Core,' build infrastructure in the form of a regional, high-performance computing grid, and recruit new faculty in bioinformatics, biostatistics, and related areas."

Moore, DMS' Third Century Professor of Genetics and Community and Family Medicine, adds that the research projects will encourage junior faculty to examine different aspects of the way genes and environment interact in causing or preventing diseases such as bladder cancer that show a higher incidence in New England. Dartmouth faculty serving as principal investigators in two of the COBRE's first four research projects will be DMS biostatistician Jiang Gui, PhD, and Thayer School of Engineering biostatistician Mark Borsuk, PhD. Heading additional projects will be immunologist Carol Kim, PhD, from the University of Maine, and computational biologist Clare Bates Congdon, PhD, from the University of Southern Maine.

"Each project pairs an experimental or observational biologist with a quantitative scientist from bioinformatics or biostatistics," Moore says. "This grant will encourage scientists to collaborate within and between projects, which I believe is the future of biomedical research."

DMS already is home to COBREs supporting regional research efforts in lung biology and immunology The medical school also co-leads an NIH-supported IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) for faculty and students at undergraduate institutions around New Hampshire.

"Dr. Moore has emerged as a talented leader in the field of computational genetics," says Wiley 'Chip' Souba, MD, ScD, MBA, dean of DMS and Dartmouth College's vice president for health affairs. " We are very proud of the tremendous effort Jason and his team put into assembling this complicated application and in helping to establish Dartmouth Medical School as a leader in research and collaboration, serving the people of our region"

Dartmouth faculty and researchers joining Moore in the new COBRE include epidemiologist Angeline Andrew, PhD, biostatistician Eugene Demidenko, PhD, and genomicist Craig Tomlinson, PhD.

"The iQBS will exist as an institute without walls encompassing every major research university and foundation in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine," Moore concludes. "This COBRE program is essential for building quantitative biology infrastructure in a largely rural region of the United States that has not kept pace with universities in more populated areas such as nearby Boston and New York."


Contact: David Corriveau
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

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