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GEN News Highlights : Jan 20, 2010
University of Florida Receives $15M, and Berkeley Lab Obtains $12.8M in ARRA Funding
UF will use the money to build a 40,000 sq. ft. site focused on aging research, while LBNL’s grant will be shared among 14 investigators.
The University of Florida's (UF) Institute on Aging has received close to $15 million from the NIH through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to construct an almost 40,000-square-foot complex for clinical and translational research. Separately, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) was awarded $12.8 million in ARRA funding by the NIH for research into cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, radioactive decontamination, and a variety of other health conditions.
The UF building is expected to bring together scientists from a range of disciplines to enhance aging research on the campus. “This is a unique opportunity to have basic science, clinical, epidemiology, and health services researchers working under the same roof on a common goal of improving the health and independence of older adults,” says Marco Pahor, M.D., principal investigator of the grant and director of the UF Institute on Aging.
The facility will reportedly make it easier for mobility-restricted older adults to take part in clinical trials. There will be facilities for clinical-research recruitment and assessment, laboratories, training, conferences, and lifestyle intervention including an indoor walking track, demonstration kitchen, and a behavioral counseling suite.
The project is estimated to create or retain about 376 jobs, three quarters of which will be construction-related. The remaining jobs include 30 faculty positions as well as graduate assistants and support and administrative staff.
The new grant comes on the heels of a recent $64 million NIH research award to the UF Institute on Aging to study whether physical activity can help prevent mobility disability and other morbidities in older adults. Together the institute's researchers have more than 90 active NIH and other grants in basic, clinical, and translational science totaling more than $200 million and almost 150 pending grant proposals that would garner close to $200 million more.
For Berkeley Lab, today’s NIH grants bring its total ARRA funding to more than $240 million in areas covering energy, computing, and general science, as well as infrastructure projects. “The Recovery Act grants from NIH have allowed us to create quite a few new positions for scientists, technicians, research associates, and postdoctoral fellows as well as retain some jobs,” comments Joe Gray, associate laboratory director for life sciences.
The $12.8 million will go to 14 individual research projects ranging from disease investigation to the development of tools for medical researchers. The largest single grant is $4.2 million for a two-year research project to develop treatments for contamination by radioactive actinide particles such as those from nuclear accident fallout or a dirty bomb.”
The only existing method of mitigating risks of actinide contamination is a treatment developed in the 1950s that must be given through an injection, which would not be viable in a situation where residents of an entire metropolitan area must be injected in a matter of hours. Further, this agent, known as DTPA, is effective only on a few actinides, Berkeley Lab points out.
Two molecules that have been developed at Berkeley Lab to sequester actinides can reportedly target a much wider range of actinides, the most well-known of which are uranium and plutonium. These compounds help excrete up to 90% of the radioactive particles within 24 hours. Additionally, given doses over subsequent days, nearly complete excretion is possible, the researchers say.
“The ARRA funding will enable us to proceed with preclinical development of two compounds that have been designed and tested,” says scientist Rebecca Abergel. “They are very promising. We have not observed major toxicity issues, and the efficacy is in the range we want it to be. What we want to accomplish in the next two years is to gather data to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration.”
The Berkeley Lab research group, led by GTSC director, Kenneth Raymond, will partner with SRI International and the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute to conduct toxicology and pharmacology tests with the goal of filing an investigational new drug application with the FDA in two years.
Other Recovery Act awards to Berkeley Lab from NIH include:
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