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HudsonAlpha, St. Jude awarded $14.3 million grant

HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have been awarded a grant for $14.3 million for genetic sequencing of birth defects and childhood cancers. CONTRIBUTED
HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have been awarded a grant for $14.3 million for genetic sequencing of birth defects and childhood cancers. CONTRIBUTED
HUNTSVILLE – HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have been jointly awarded a $14.3-million grant for genetic sequencing of birth defects and childhood cancers.
The Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program (Kids First) with the National Institutes of Health Common Fund awarded the grant. The objective is to produce genetic sequencing data and create a centralized resource for study of birth defects and childhood cancers.
The program will create a joint sequencing center run by Dr. Shawn Levy of HudsonAlpha and Dr. Jinghui Zhang with St. Jude. The center will sequence thousands of samples over the term of the grant.
In addition, the new center will offer a reliable and efficient data storage and data access capability that provides access, sharing and reporting to Kids First research program directors and investigators.
“Expanding our understanding of the genetic contributions and etiologies (causes of a disease) of birth defects and childhood cancer will have a significant and direct impact on those affected by those conditions and also contributes significantly to related research in adult conditions,” Levy said.
As a faculty investigator at HudsonAlpha, Levy runs the Genomic Services Lab. “This centralized resource we are creating will provide researchers with the tools and support necessary to advance our understanding and drive us closer to curing or preventing these diseases,” Levy said.
“Our joint expertise in high-throughput sequencing, genomic analysis and pediatric cancer genetic research will ensure that data generated from this program will be a valuable resource for developing tools to allow more advanced prediction, treatment and prevention of childhood cancer and birth defects,” Zhang said.
Zhang chairs of the department of computational biology at St. Jude and holds the St. Jude Endowed Chair in bioinformatics.
At St. Jude, Zhang’s research has led to new directions in studying high-risk leukemia, brain and solid tumors through the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project. That program, launched in 2010 with Washington University in St. Louis, involved an unprecedented effort to map the genomes of some of
the deadliest childhood cancers.
For more information, visit hudsonalpha.org or stjude.org.

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