UT Southwestern snags $5.6M grant to boost bioinformatics operation

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) has given the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center $5.6 million to build out its bioinformatics capabilities. Gaudenz Danuser, a professor UT Southwestern lured away from Harvard Medical School last year, is leading the initiative.

Danuser bagged the biggest chunk of the $12.6 million in research grants CPRIT is making available to UT Southwestern. CPRIT has given the former Harvard and Scripps Research Institute researcher $5.6 million to spend, a sum that will go toward getting UT Southwestern's bioinformatics program up to speed. Scientific leaders at Dallas, TX-based UT Southwestern identified bioinformatics as the field on which the future success of its research operations will rely most heavily, prompting it to look to bolster its capabilities.

Publicly available details of exactly how UT Southwestern will spend the money are sketchy at this stage but the organization is clear on what it wants to achieve. "[Bioinformatics] involves managing huge data sets that can identify complex patterns in the organization and regulation of molecules, cells, tissues, and organs. Finding these patterns has become an essential component of biomedical discovery and is crucial to understanding the foundations of life and the defects causing disease, including cancer, as well as developing diagnostic approaches and new therapeutic strategies," the institute wrote in a statement.

As well as the $5.6 million bioinformatics grant, UT Southwestern picked up $4.8 million for a colorectal cancer screening program and $800,000 to run four speculative research projects. CPRIT gave a further $4 million--on top of the $12.6 million in research grants--to recruit two scientists from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Stanford University.

- read the release