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Lab that probes genetic clues to disease is poised for major expansion
Date:4/14/2010

Despite the continuing, crippling effects of a nationwide recession, a genetics research laboratory on Rutgers' Busch Campus is experiencing an economic boom.

And the continued success of the Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository (RUCDR) is not only raising the university's profile as a world leader in human disease and genome studies, but is also bringing in millions of dollars in federal and foundation grants that benefit the economy throughout the region.

The center, which opened in 1998, is experiencing unprecedented demand for its specialized ability to extract, process, and analyze DNA and other biological samples for the genetic clues to autism, schizophrenia, alcoholism and many more diseases and conditions that confound researchers and affect countless lives.

"The amount of work we do has been doubling every two to three years," said Jay Tischfield, MacMillan Professor and chair of the Department of Genetics. "It's at least 20 times as much as when we started 12 years ago."

Yet the mostly federally-funded work that the center performs has outstripped the capacity of its Allison Road facility. So, the government is footing the bill for an expansion that will turn the repository into a robotics-driven laboratory that will more fully automate the process by which faculty examine the human genome at an ever deeper and finer level.

In order to do this work with so many thousands of samples, you really need robotics, and robotics requires a very special space," Tischfield said. "It needs space where one robot can feed into another. So this new construction will be very open and won't be of the traditional design. All the benches will be movable, so that we can reconfigure it in any way we need, as the demands of our research require."

The project, which is in the final planning stages, will be paid for with a $9.6 million grant that the center received from the National Institutes of Health's Nat
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Contact: Joseph Blumberg
blumberg@ur.rutgers.edu
732-932-7084 x652
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert  

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