Feb. 1, 1996
Vol. 15, No. 10

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    Training of physicians, scientists gets boost

    from $2.6 million grant The Howard Hughes Medical Institute has awarded a $2.6 million four-year grant to support the training of a new generation of research scientists and physicians at the Pritzker School of Medicine.

    The grant will support primarily junior faculty researchers in the areas of neurobiology and genetics. It will assist in the development of two new research centers, the Center for Molecular & Cellular Neurobiology and the Center for Integrative Neurobiology.

    Glenn Steele Jr., Dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the William V. McDermott Professor in Surgery, said the work supported by the Hughes Institute grant promises to have "tremendous impact on our understanding of human function and our ability to diagnose and treat serious illness."

    The grant was awarded as part of a new initiative called the Research Resource Program for Medical Schools. Grants ranging from $2.2 million to $4 million were given to 30 of the 117 institutions that applied.

    Hughes Institute president Purnell Choppin said the grants "reflect the excellence of biomedical research conducted at the nation's medical schools, and their strong commitment to sustain their research mission in a time of remarkable changes in the funding of biomedical research.

    "We are pleased that the Hughes Institute grant will provide important resources and increased flexibility for the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine as it adapts to the new funding environment and continues to advance our knowledge of basic biological processes and disease mechanisms."

    The Center for Molecular & Cellular Neurobiology, to be housed on one floor of the Jules F. Knapp Medical Research Building, will focus on the genetic basis of neuronal organization and the proteins that characterize the neuronal cell membrane. Building on strengths in cell physiology and molecular genetics, the faculty of the center will serve as a bridge between these programs and the clinical departments.

    The Center for Integrative Neurobiology will be developed over the next three to five years, according to Godfrey Getz, the Donald N. Pritzker Professor and Chairman of Pathology and the grant's program director.

    "The Center for Integrative Neurobiology is a program that applies the powerful tools of molecular and cell biology to the understanding of neural processes that are at the root of the complex relationships between brain function and behavior," Getz said.

    "We also plan to build upon our strong program in human genetics," he said. "The institute's support will help our faculty create a unified intellectual program in order to take fuller advantage of the Human Genome Initiative."

    The Human Genome Initiative is a worldwide research effort with the goal of analyzing the structure of human DNA and determining the locations of the estimated 100,000 human genes. Sponsored nationally by the National Institutes of Health, the initiative has engaged researchers and set up genome research centers around the country. A number of University researchers are conducting similar or related research that may eventually play a role in the initiative.