February 6, 2007
CONTACT: Karen Kreeger
Penn Awarded $2 Million Grant from
Keck Foundation for
(PHILADELPHIA) – The University
of Pennsylvania has received a $2 million grant from the
W.M. Keck Foundation
of Los Angeles for a pioneering study on the genomics
disease. The Keck Foundation’s program supports basic biomedical
research and the development of pioneering new technologies.
“The scientific scope of such an interdisciplinary effort has traditionally
been difficult to fund through standard NIH
mechanisms,” notes Eberwine, the project’s principal investigator.
“The foresight of the Keck Foundation in facilitating this and such
efforts at other universities will undoubtedly contribute to the development
of scientific innovation and therefore the improvement of the human condition.”
The Keck grant will fund the cataloguing of the changes in gene expression that underlie the development of Parkinson's in individual live neurons and will utilize a newly developed technology for assessing genomic changes in live cells. The goal is to use this information to create neurons that reliably produce dopamine, under natural gene regulation within the cell. Eventually, such cells may prove to be useful in cellular therapeutics.
Current treatments for Parkinson's using transplanted cells are limited by the traditional one-gene-at-a-time approach to manipulating dopamine production. The new integrated approach developed by Eberwine and colleagues will identify the complex genetic nature of the disease and will be used in efforts to correct the multifaceted gene expression anomalies that underlie Parkinson's pathology.
More generally, most human diseases
manifest themselves through the dysregulation
of multiple genes. The approaches being developed as part of this Keck
grant will permit multiple genes to be manipulated in a predictable, naturally
controlled manner. “These studies will provide the first truly functional
genomics approach to understanding human disease and eventually, it is
hoped, may provide novel therapeutic intervention
strategies,” says Eberwine.
PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals, all of which have received numerous national patient-care honors [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center]; a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.