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Ann Lurie Donates $600,000 to Buy State-of-Art DNA Sequencer

March 4, 2008 | by Marla Paul
CHICAGO -- Ann Lurie has donated $600,000 to the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University and Northwestern's Center for Genetic Medicine to purchase a state-of-the-art next generation DNA sequencer. Lurie, a member of the Northwestern University Board of Trustees, has been a major benefactor of medical research and facilities at Northwestern.

The sequencer will enable scientists to quickly read enormous regions of DNA for research into genetic mutations and variations that are involved in the development of disease. The machine can be used to read large parts of the human genome or entire genomes of bacteria and viruses. This information will become useful for choosing optimal therapies in patients with cancer.

"We are grateful for Ann Lurie's continued remarkable support of the mission of the Lurie Cancer Center," said Steven T. Rosen, M.D., director of the Lurie Cancer Center.

The new machine, called an Applied Biosystems Solid State DNA Sequencer, can sequence 3,000 million base pairs in a single analysis. Base pairs are the building blocks of DNA. A traditional sequencer reads from 60 to 600 DNA base pairs in a single analysis.

"This gives us dramatically more comprehensive, faster and cheaper results," said Peter Kopp, MD, interim director of the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "It can sequence a whole genome of bacteria in just one week, a very short time."

The sequencer will be used, for example, to look for genetic variations associated with such illnesses as type 2 diabetes and asthma. "These analyses will provide additional insights into the molecular basis of these frequent disorders. Understanding the underlying mechanisms is important because it may lead to novel implications for therapy," noted Kopp, who also is an associate professor in endocrinology, metabolism and molecular medicine at the Feinberg School.
Topics: University News