Emory Report

January 10, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 16

Med school receives $1.6 million grant

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has selected the School of Medicine as one of 41 medical schools nationwide to receive research funding over the next four years. Emory will use its award of $1.6 million to fund new core facilities for basic and clinical biomedical research.

The HHMI awards come at a time when managed care and other changes in traditional funding present challenges to the ability of medical schools to conduct biomedical research.

"Medical schools are where a great many of the most important biomedical advances occur, yet they are being squeezed by the growth of managed care, new government policies and other changes," said HHMI president Purnell Choppin. "These resources will help medical schools to maintain the critical basic and clinical research activities that yield so many advances for patients."

Emory will use the funds to establish three new core facilities for high-speed cell surface analysis and sorting through flow cytometry; for neuroscience imaging by positron emission tomography; and for analysis of gene expression in normal subjects and in a variety of diseases using DNA microchip technology.

"This support will be extremely helpful in moving Emory to the next level of prominence in biomedical research," said Robert Rich, executive associate medical dean for research and strategic initiatives. "We will be establishing core facilities in very fundamental areas of research on the cutting edge of where science is headed in the next decade. Research within these facilities will be broadly applicable across our health sciences center."

HHMI invited 126 medical schools to compete for the grants, and 105 institutions submitted proposals. The successful proposals emphasized collaborations between researchers in the basic sciences and those who do clinical research. Many proposals also dealt with bioinformatics, a field that joins computer science to molecular biology to analyze data such as that being generated by the Human Genome Project.

HHMI is a medical research organization that supports the work of investigators at laboratories located at academic medical centers, universities and other research institutions throughout the United States. It already gives considerable support to biomedical research and education at Emory. Stephen Warren, W.T. Timmie Professor of Biochemistry, is one of 320 HHMI-funded investigators at 71 medical centers and universities nationwide, and the only one in Georgia.

Since 1989, HHMI has supported undergraduate science education at Emory through the Hughes Undergraduate Science Initiative. This initiative includes the Summer Under-graduate Research Experience; ScienceNET, an Emory science website; workshops for Atlanta-area college instructors; and a summer program for high school students. entering college.

--Holly Kirschun

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