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Release: Nov. 4 , 1999

UI researchers receive $6 million NIH grant renewal for genetic research

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Health Care researchers, along with colleagues in the UI College of Engineering, have received a three-year, nearly $6 million grant renewal to continue their work identifying and locating genes on the rat genome.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, along with the National Eye Institute, renewed the grant, effective Oct. 1. In 1997 the UI team received initial funding through a two-year, $4.7 million grant to identify and map a large subset of genes in the rat genome. The findings are expected to help scientists understand the human genome and aid in identifying genes involved in human diseases.

Continuing as UI co-principal investigators are Val C. Sheffield, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute associate investigator; M. Bento Soares, Ph.D., associate professor of pediatrics, and physiology and biophysics; and Thomas L. Casavant, Ph.D., professor of electrical and computer engineering in the UI College of Engineering.

The team has reached its initial goal of identifying more than 25,000 genes and localizing more than 8,000 genes to specific regions of the rat genome. The team will identify a total of 60,000 genes and, in collaboration with investigators at the Medical College of Wisconsin, place nearly 30,000 genes on the rat genomic map. The project includes a web site at that provides timely updates on findings.

The study uses technologies that facilitate gene discovery and computational methods provided respectively by Soares’ and Casavant’s labs. Casavant is director of the UI Coordinated Laboratory for Computational Genomics, which can be visited online at

The UI rat genome project is made possible, in part, by the Interdepartmental Research Program in Human Molecular Genetics, which Sheffield directs.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.