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Release: Oct. 31, 2002

New UI Center Signs Contract With Integrated DNA Technologies

The new Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB), a joint enterprise of the University of Iowa College of Engineering and Carver College of Medicine, has signed a three-year, $150,000 contract with Integrated DNA Technologies, Inc. (IDT) of Coralville, Iowa to explore collaborative projects that will help scientists to better perform laboratory work.

One project would involve designing a public "Window of Science" web site offering a comprehensive set of resources to help lab molecular biology and biochemistry researchers fully utilize information derived from the Human Genome Project. Another project would develop computational methods for designing more efficient and effective oligonucleotides, or reagents, used in many common genomics lab settings.

Thomas Casavant, CBCB director and professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering. says that the purpose of the CBCB-IDT agreement is to help researchers to achieve their scientific goals more rapidly and effectively.

"The promise of the Genome Project is locked behind a door that can only be opened with cooperation between computation experts and those engaged in the design and deployment of biological and medical research experiments," Casavant says. "The teamwork that this grant represents is a model for this type of cooperation."

Dr. Joe Walder, CEO of IDT says, "Researchers worldwide have only begun to scratch the surface in deciphering genome project information. We see this formal cooperation and collaboration between IDT and the CBCB as facilitating basic and applied research in areas as diverse as treating disease, producing new diagnostics and improving agriculture."

The CBCB is a high-performance computational and informational resource uniquely designed to help researchers learn about the genetic basis of human disease and other biomedical phenomena. In addition, the CBCB is working to develop interdisciplinary programs of study to teach professionals the skills of biomedical problem solving using modern computational methods. The center is jointly administered by the UI College of Engineering and the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research. The center will include researchers from the Colleges of Engineering, Medicine, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Public Health, Business, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nursing and the Graduate College. Also, the CBCB will work to cooperate with other units, including the UI Carver Center for Comparative Genomics and the UI Center for Macular Degeneration and other research support units such as Information Technology Services Research Technologies and the Carver College of Medicine's DNA Core Facility.

An outgrowth of the College of Engineering's Coordinated Laboratory for Computational Genomics, the CBCB builds upon over seven years of collaboration between the Carver College of Medicine and the College of Engineering in the use of applied computational science in the fields of genomics, genetics, molecular biology, and their applications for medical research. Such collaborations have investigated genotyping, genetic linkage analysis, gene mapping and other phenomena and have already attracted more than $35 million in external funding to the University of Iowa.

IDT, with more than 300 employees, is a major force in advancing biomedical research as both a supplier of custom oligonucleotides and a developer of innovative new biotechnology. As a leading manufacturer of synthetic DNA/RNA, IDT provides products to over 27,000 customers worldwide and has a strong presence in both the academic and corporate marketplace. The company's research division is committed to improving nucleic acid synthesis technology and developing new applications for DNA and RNA based compounds. IDT's advanced synthesis group combines expertise in chemistry, molecular biology, information systems and engineering to produce and purify complex nucleic acids of all kinds. IDT received its commercial start in the UI's business incubator, the Technology Innovation Center (TIC), on the UI Oakdale Campus, and today is located near major university, medical and research centers in Coralville, Iowa and with offices in the Chicago area.