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Genome Center to Encourage Cooperative, Efficient Research

October 11, 2005

MERCED - With genomes of humans and many other organisms
sequenced, scientists worldwide now aim to discover what the genes
in those genomes do and how they interact with each other. Several
promising genomics researchers at the University of California,
Merced, will be able to continue their advanced genomics research
thanks to a $500,000 gift that will fund a high-end, cooperative
laboratory facility that will include computers, robots, and other
equipment to help scientists study the genes of all kinds of
organisms, from bacteria to sea creatures to human beings.

“This generous gift demonstrates a commitment to advancing human
and environmental health through cutting-edge science,” said Dean
Maria Pallavicini of UC Merced’s School of Natural Sciences. “The
Genome Center will allow UC Merced scientists to move forward with
their research using state-of-the-art equipment here on campus,
contributing toward the goals of healthier people and environments
in the future.”

The new center will further UC Merced’s innovative plan for
scientific laboratory space. Rather than islands of individual
exploration, UC Merced encourages professors to collaborate in
building efficient, shared centers, called Core Labs, that house
the technology needed to build knowledge in the interdisciplinary
fields of the 21st century.

Having the sophisticated equipment of the Genome Center on
campus will make a difference in work like the research of
professors Jennifer O. Manilay, Mónica Medina and Miriam
Barlow. Manilay and Medina helped present the proposed center to
the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous.

“The donor seemed to identify with my research in developmental
immunology,” said Manilay, who plans to use the new genome center
in her study of the development of lymphocytes in the immune
system, aiming to identify genes involved in cell fate decisions.

Medina, who studies corals and algae, says genomic research will
permit “giant steps toward understanding the biology of the coral
reef, an ecosystem threatened by global warming.” The

health of that system affects other ocean resources such as
the fisheries crucial for much of the world’s food supply.

“Having the Genome Center at UC Merced will expedite my
findings, since I currently have to schedule time at the UCSF
facility and spend several days there when we are printing genome
arrays,” Medina says. “Removing obstacles of availability, cost,
and commuting will make a great difference in my work.”

The new center will include customized equipment such as a
microarray robot and software, a microarray scanner and a liquid
handling robot, funded by the donor.

“Older research technologies allow us to examine one gene at a
time,” explains Barlow, who studies the evolution of antibiotic
resistance in bacteria. “Microarray analysis is a way of addressing
the same questions by looking at every gene that is expressed, all
at once. This makes it easier to identify complex interactions
within and between cells.” Barlow hopes her research will help
extend the useful lifetimes of antibiotics.