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St. Jude unveils a high-tech, front-line biomedical research facility
The new Hartwell Center for Bioinformatics and Biotechnology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is one of the leading facilities of its kind in the world. The center, opening in a series of phases this summer, features DNA microarray technology, proteomics, mass spectrometry, and a complete bioinformatics infrastructure to support the entire system. The center’s mission is to be the best in applying modern bioinformatics and biotechnology to the study and treatment of pediatric catastrophic diseases.
"These new capabilities will revolutionize biomedical research by allowing us to study gene and protein function on a large scale," said Clayton Naeve, Ph.D., director of the Hartwell Center. "This sets the stage for discovery and helps us gain a better understanding of which genes and gene products are involved in many aspects of disease, diagnosis, prognosis and response to chemotherapy. Ultimately, we want to tailor a patient’s treatment plan based on their genetic status. The potential is enormous."
The new center encompasses a broad range of protein and nucleic acid technologies as well as the computing technology needed to support them. The current expansion program includes the development or enhancement of DNA microarray laboratories, functional genomics, proteomics, mass spectrometry and clinical applications core technology. Hartwell Center staff members assist research investigators by providing access to and interpretation for these resources.
St. Jude has embraced bioinformatics for the past 10 years by recognizing its central role in research efforts. Last year, the stakes were raised dramatically when a generous donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, pledged $25 million dollars to speed up the development of the Hartwell Center for Bioinformatics and Biotechnology. "This is the type of donor whose commitment and generosity Danny Thomas counted on to support his dream ‘that no child should die in the dawn of life’," said Ed Soma, M.D., member of the ALSAC/St. Jude Boards of Directors and Governors.
To accelerate and accomplish the center’s mission, backing from ALSAC and grant support doubled the funding.
"We have a substantial lead on most other institutions thanks to our generous funding and technology," said Naeve. "We not only have bioinformatics in place, but we also recognize the importance of developing it and our biotechnology capabilities further."
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
St. Jude was founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas. The hospital is an internationally recognized biomedical research center dedicated to finding cures for catastrophic diseases of childhood. The hospital's work is supported through funds raised by the ALSAC. All St. Jude patients are treated regardless of their inability to pay.
ALSAC covers all costs of treatment beyond those reimbursed by third party insurers, and total costs for families who have no insurance.