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Dartmouth to Partner with UNH in New Research Network Funded by $15.4 Million NIH Grant

September 21, 2010
Lebanon, NH

A new network to support biomedical research by faculty and students at undergraduate schools in New Hampshire will be jointly operated by Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) in connection with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) under a $15.4 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award, presented by NIH's National Center for Research Resources' (NCRR) IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE), will promote the development, coordination, and sharing of resources and expertise to expand research opportunities for college students and increase the number of competitive research investigators in New Hampshire.

Partnering with Norris Cotton Cancer Center, DMS, and UNH are Plymouth State University in Plymouth, Keene State College in Keene, Colby-Sawyer College in New London, St. Anselm College in Manchester, Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New England College in Henniker, River Valley Community College in Claremont, and Great Bay Community College in Portsmouth.

"Through the power of shared resources, the INBRE created by this award will strengthen the research infrastructure throughout New Hampshire and the Northeast region," said NCRR director Barbara Alving, MD. "The bioinformatics core developed by this network will make cutting-edge technologies available to institutions across the state and ultimately speed the pace of biomedical research discovery in New Hampshire and beyond."

"One of the goals of the INBRE grant in New Hampshire is to provide access to the state-of-the-art tools now available in genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics," said Steven Fiering, PhD, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology and of genetics at DMS and a member of Norris Cotton Cancer Center. "The NH INBRE will support bioinformatics providing computer science staff with programming and analysis expertise. This will involve presenting lectures and short courses about these tools at the partner schools, offering hands-on training in the use of these tools, and facilitating access for students and faculty at these institutions to Dartmouth's instrumentation and expertise."

Dr. Fiering will be the new network's project coordinator. In addition, Jason Moore, PhD, will direct bioinformatics for the INBRE program, working with the partner institutions to build a NH computing grid that will make available high-performance computing resources for research and education throughout the state. Dr. Moore is a professor of genetics and of community and family medicine at DMS, and is the associate director of bioinformatics for Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Under NH-INBRE, students and their faculty advisors at partner schools will have training opportunities at the Cancer Center for careers in medical research. The Cancer Center anticipates these collaborations will lead to more applications from promising students for post-graduate training opportunities, contributing to the vitality of its research programs. In addition, the Cancer Center maintains a number of shared high-tech research services featuring state-of-the-art equipment that are beyond the capability of individual undergraduate laboratories. "The INBRE network will extend the clientele for these services to projects underway across New Hampshire schools of higher learning," commented Robert Gerlach, associate director for administration and scientific affairs at the Cancer Center. "Increased utilization of these core services helps assure their current financial viability as well as their ability to pursue the addition of new cutting-edge technologies to the available services."

"We want to retain biomedical investigators in the state—to keep and develop the talent we have here," added Ronald Taylor, PhD, NH-INBRE's principal investigator and director of DMS's Microbiology and Molecular Pathogenesis Program. "Some of these are researchers who haven't had the support needed to get preliminary results that would allow them to compete for research grants on a national level. NH-INBRE will provide resources and develop a statewide research culture that will help to achieve these goals."

"This changes everything," Taylor added. "This provides the opportunities for students to conduct real experiments well beyond just experiencing the typically pre-choreographed lab course."

Joining Taylor, Fiering, and Moore on the NH-INBRE leadership team are physiologist Robert Maue, PhD, director of research training; biochemist Charles Cole, PhD, director of research projects; and Mary Jo Slattery, RN, MS, director of nursing research training. Slattery coordinates nursing research at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. From UNH, geneticist William Kelley Thomas, PhD, co-directs the bioinformatics core, and Jane Nisbet, PhD, serves as vice provost for research.

About Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center combines advanced cancer research at Dartmouth Medical School with patient-centered cancer care provided at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, at Dartmouth-Hitchcock regional locations in Manchester and Keene, NH, and St. Johnsbury, VT, and at 11 affiliated hospitals throughout New Hampshire and Vermont. It is one of 40 centers nationwide to earn the National Cancer Institute's Comprehensive Cancer Center designation. Learn more about Norris Cotton Cancer Center research, programs, and clinical trials online at cancer.dartmouth.edu.

For more information, contact Steve Bjerklie, Norris Cotton Cancer Center Communications Coordinator, at (603) 653-9056 or Steven.P.Bjerklie@Dartmouth.edu.

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