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Medical school gains; New grants give cell, DNA research major boost.

COLUMN: In our opinion

The future of cell and DNA research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School received a significant boost recently, when two of the school's scientists were awarded a total of $2.5 million in grants from the W.M. Keck Foundation.

The foundation, based in California, has the reputation of giving grants others might not because of the high risk the work presents.

At UMass, Stephen J. Doxsey plans to use his $1.5 million to hire staff and purchase new equipment for his study of a process in cell division that produces cells with different life spans. The process has implications for a better understanding of stem cells, cancer and aging.

His colleague, Job Dekker, who received $1 million, will also add staff and perhaps new technology to continue his study on what regulates chromosomes and what happens when they cause disease.

Both men agree that the money will greatly expand their studies. The awards are timely. In May, Gov. Deval L. Patrick announced a 10-year, $1-billion biotechnology research and development plan which will be headquartered at the medical school. It will include the country's first bank for existing and new stem-cell lines. That material would then be provided to both private and public researchers all over the world.

The stem-cell center, the grants to Mr. Doxsey and Mr. Dekker and the Nobel Prize-winning work of scientist Craig C. Mello has put UMass on the world's map of top-level research institutions.

That is important not only for the university and the people who eventually may be helped by the ongoing work, but also for the economic health of the region and the state, which until recently appeared to be falling behind other states in the race for supremacy in life science research.

The governor and the Legislature must ensure that these programs get the financial support they want and need.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 11, 2007
Words:315
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