Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory receives more than $22 million in federal stimulus grants

Awards issued under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Cold Spring Harbor, NY – Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) has been awarded more than $22 million in grants by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The funds, which CSHL will receive over the next two years, will support research in cancer, neuroscience, epigenetics, and plant biology, as well as research training and laboratory enhancements.

In a speech about the ARRA research grants, President Barack Obama said that the funds, which were awarded to a wide variety of U.S. institutions, will support, “cutting-edge research all across America, to unlock treatments to diseases that have long plagued humanity, to save and enrich the lives of people all over the world.  This represents the single largest boost to biomedical research in history.”

CSHL President Bruce Stillman, Ph.D., said, “Progress in science depends on a number of factors, not least of which is firm financial backing. The NIH and NSF grants will help our scientists to pursue advances in biology that have the potential to greatly benefit human health and well-being, and also contribute in a very meaningful way to stimulating the economy, both in the short- and long-term.

Some of the CSHL research programs that were awarded NIH or NSF grants are:

  • Creation of a Molecular Target Discovery and Development Center that will combine several powerful technologies recently developed at CSHL to pursue a new approach to determining which of the hundreds of genes that are altered in cancer actually play a causal role. The CSHL Center, which is part of a network of five centers established nation-wide, will analyze the wealth of information found in complex data sets generated by human cancer genome projects and validate candidate genes in mouse models. One aim is to discover and validate a new generation of cancer drugs that target specific molecular changes in a patient’s disease.

  • Study of the epigenetic dynamics of developing germ cells and early mouse embryos. Since hormone treatments are believed to alter the epigenetic state of some genes, one aspect of this study is to compare epigenetic profiles in early embryos derived from normal mice to those of early embryos in hormone-treated, super-ovulated mice. This is highly relevant to human health since as many as one million women undergo hormone-assisted attempts at conception each year.

  • Investigation of the molecular basis of pregnancy-associated protection from breast cancer. Studies show that a full-term pregnancy before the age of 30 provides a life-long reduction in breast cancer risk. CSHL scientists will conduct experiements to explore the pathways that underlie this protective effect and, hopefully, lead to clinical approaches that can help reduce breast cancer risk.

  • High-throughput sequencing of autism candidate genes in order to reveal a major fraction of the genetic variation underlying autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). These experiments will use samples from the Simons Simplex Collection – the largest high-quality group of ASD families assembled to date. A likely outcome of this work will be significant advances in molecular screening of ASD among young children, which could lead to more precise diagnosis and treatment more specifically tailored to the needs of affected individuals.

  • Recruitment of a developmental neurobiologist with expertise in neural circuit development and plasticity to significantly enhance CSHL’s current efforts to understand how neuropsychiatric disorders affect brain function. This scientist will be part of an innovative and multidisciplinary team that combines genetics, mouse models and neuroscience to study the underlying biology contributing to disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism.

 

Last week, CSHL announced that two of its neuroscientists were among an elite group of only 42 researchers nationwide to receive special five-year grants for “transformative” research projects, which were devised by the NIH to encourage “exceptionally innovative, high-risk, original and/or unconventional research that has the potential to create new or challenge existing scientific paradigms.”

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.  More information about NIH's ARRA grant funding opportunities can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/recovery/.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. More information can be found at www.nsf.gov.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is a private, not-for-profit research and education institution at the forefront of efforts in molecular biology and genetics to generate knowledge that will yield better diagnostics and treatments for cancer, neurological diseases and other major causes of human suffering.  For more information, visit www.cshl.edu.

Written by: Peter Tarr, Senior Science Writer | tarr@cshl.edu | 516-367-8455

Written by: Hema Bashyam, Science Writer | bashyam@cshl.edu | 516-367-6822